Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

William H. Shea

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

Abraham Terian


The literature on Judges reveals a growing body of insights into its structure and arrangement, and the social dynamics and theology of the eras of its events and (later) composition. At the same time, there is continual search for greater understanding of these features of the book. Rhetorical criticism furnishes a promising approach to discovering the structure of the Jephthah stories, when used with genre-identification aspects of form criticism. The five Jephthah narratives are a loosely integrated, but symmetrically arranged sequence. The first and fifth narratives are rhetorically designed to pair with each other; the second and fourth are similarly designed, but also feature the correlated motifs of Jephthah's rise and fall. Between them lies a diplomatic speech of Jephthah which embodies the regular kerygma of ancient Israel, here pressed in to the service of Jephthah's effort at peaceful settlement of Ammonite aggression through diplomacy. Thus, the Jephthah stories are symmetrically arranged. The thematic over-arch is the establishment of a single-head government in Gilead under conditions of national repentance, foreign threat, and elders' treaty; this movement is finally frustrated by tragedy, however. The remainder of the book of Judges has been composed by pursuing this matching-pairs technique all the way to the outer edges. Thus the Jephthah series is framed by the two minor judge portions, these in turn by the Gideon-Samson blocks, and these again in turn by chaps. 4-5 and 17-18. Finally chaps. 1-3 and 19-21 are coordinated. A new understanding of the structure of Judges thus emerges from this study of the Jep'uthah series and its implications. The most likely historical setting for the composition of Judges is the Solomonic Era when the problems Israel faced in the Judges Era again emerged. The editors approved of single-head rule legitimated by elders' treaty, but warned of idolatry, foreign dominion, and internal disruption. When the Deuteronomistic History was assembled in the Exilic Era, Judges became part of that history. Jephthah and the other charismatic judges came to be seen as forerunners, not only of the monarchy, but of the later, equally charismatic prophetic movement.

Subject Area

Jephthah (Biblical judge), Bible, Judges--Criticism, interpretation, etc, Andrews University--Dissertations--Jephthah (Biblical judge).


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