Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Second Advisor

Roy Gane

Third Advisor

John C. Peckman


How should we then live? This has been the guiding question throughout the study. In a world that offers a myriad of answers to this one question, I have sought the answer in the Bible, more specifically in the Hebrew part of the Bible. Instead of asking the straightforward question as to how the Bible can function as norm for contemporary ethics, the following discussion is based on the assumption that an authentic reading and appropriation of the text needs both to understand and to emulate the ways in which the biblical authors read the Bible. While scholars have examined separately biblical law, reuse within the Bible, and the memorization of revered texts in the ANE, I have tried to combine these three areas in an attempt to clarify how biblical authors read normative texts.

This study is divided into three parts: in the first part, I argue that Torah is best characterized as normative covenantal instruction, and that Torah and the Latter Prophets (hereafter Prophets) participated in a scribal culture that did not conform to our standards of literary exactness. In the second part, I have selected four cases where we find parallels between Torah and the Prophets: (1) Divorce and Remarriage in Deut 24:1–4 and Jer 3:1–10, (2) Sabbath Instructions in Exod 20:8–11; Deut 5:12–15 and Jer 17:19– 27, (3) Manumission Instructions in Exod 21:2–11; Lev 25:10, 39–46; Deut 15:12–18; and Jer 34:8–22, and (4) Fasting in Lev 16; 23; 25 and Isa 58:1–14. Finally, I discuss Jer 7 and Ezek 18 as these cases display a different type of reuse than the preceding four. I have limited myself to cases where reuse and direction of dependence can be demonstrated with reasonable confidence, in order to give an adequate basis for a discussion of how normative texts were appropriated in each of the specific cases. In the third part, I include a hermeneutical and philosophical reflection on reading as a disclosure of the thoughts of the heart.

Repetition with variation is typical in texts that reuse a normative text. Neither conflict nor harmony can adequately explain this phenomena. In the borrowing text, we rather see a close reading that reads its source(s) expansionistically. There is an interpretative response interwoven with the reading along with various trajectories the borrowing author would have viewed as indicated in the very source(s) themselves. We find a challenge both to a literalistic reading that confines meaning to the plain sense of the text on the one hand, and to a more free or creative reading not fully responsible to the text on the other. The cases studied attest to the importance of an immersion into the normative texts in order to clarify how we should live; these cases also demonstrate the need for finding new life through texts and forms of life that creatively reuse the biblical text while all the while staying rooted in the ancient words.

Subject Area

Bible. Old Testament--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Bible. Pentateuch--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Bible. Prophets--Criticism, interpretation, etc.


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