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An Electronic Magazine of the Department of Old Testament, University of
Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Nr 13
8 October 2001
jurie le roux
 jler/up
IOSOT congress in Basel
Pro Pent Seminar
A book to have
IOSOT congress in Basel
The IOSOT congress (International Organization for the Study of the Old
Testament) took place in Basel (Switzerland) during 5 – 10 August 2001. Many
scholars attended this international congress which assembles every successive
third year somewhere in Europe. Approximately five or six hundred people
attended this year. Ernst Jenni, the president of the congress who is a retired
professor of the Old Testament at the University of Basel and his organizing
committee worked hard to make a success of this congress. Beat Huwler, the
secretary of the congress worked especially hard to accommodate the many
visitors and to schedule all the lectures.
This congress was the seventeenth one of IOSOT. The first IOSOT congress
was held in 1953 in Copenhagen (Denmark). The first president was Aage
Bentzen. Three years later the congress took place in Strassbourg (France) and
the renowned Roland de Vaux was the president. Later in 1982 and 1977 the
congress took place in Germany and the presidents were Martin Noth and Walter
Zimmerli respectively. The next IOSOT congress will take place in 2004 in
Leiden and prof Arie van der Kooij from the University of Leiden is appointed as
the president.
The IOSOT congress of this year was celebrated by a special edition of the
‘Theologische Zeitschrift’. In 1965 when IOSOT assembled in Geneva for the
first time, a special edition of ‘Theologische Zeitschrift’ appeared. This edition,
supervised by Johann Jakob Stamm who was the congress president at that time,
contained several contributions by Swiss Old Testament scholars. Klaus Seybold
prepared the 2001 edition likewise. Many themes are covered. Amongst these
are: Walter Dietrich’s article on Jehu’s struggle against the Baal of Samaria;
Martin Klopfenstein’s new translation of Hosea 9:7-9; Klaus Seybold on the
Psalms; Thomas Kruger’s theology on Ecclesiastes; Thomas Romer on the end
of the Deuteronomistic History and the Redaction of the Hexateuch. An article of
Hannes Odil Steck is especially remarkable. He passed away on 30 March 2001
and his article reflects on his scholarly career. The editors and the different
authors of this special edition of ‘Theologische Zeitschrift’ aimed at portraying an
image of Old Testament scholarship in Switzerland to all who participated at the
Sunday evening, 3 August 2001 at 20h00 in the Martinskirche, the congress
commenced with music. Mozart’s quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello (KV
311) was performed as a start. Thereafter the Faculty of Theology of the
University of Basel spoke a word of welcome. Once again we listened to music,
this time the performance was “The Jet Whistle” by Hector Villa-Lobos. The Ernst
Jenni delivered his presidential address on Hebrew linguistics. After this address
the above mentioned quartet concluded in an appropriate way with Rossini’s
‘Wilhelm Tell’ overture. After these proceedings all congress participants were
entertained in the Munster Hall. Pleasant experiences were enhanced by meeting
old friends once again and by establishing new relationships.
During the past years these congresses were shaped in a particular way: main
papers were delivered in the mornings during joint sessions, but in the afternoons
the different groups split up to listen to various short papers. The main areas that
were covered during the morning sessions were usually: linguistics, history of the
text, exegesis, theology, archaeology, and research history. The important
papers that were delivered during these morning sessions conveyed the present
state of scholarly affairs. To mention but a few of these: Bernd Janowski
commented on the nature and the significance of Old Testament Theology. Such
a theology deals with two main issues (Yahweh and Israel), but focuses primarily
on one aspect (Yahweh who calls Israel and Israel who replies to this call); this is
a historical discipline which has to account for the whole development as regards
Old Testament scholarship and which has to take into account the many ways in
which Yahweh is portrayed. Israel Finkelstein emphasized the tension between
‘archaeology’ and ‘biblical archaeology’ once again. Archaeology without the
prefixed ‘biblical’ could contribute significantly towards a reconstruction of the
history of Israel. Therefore archaeology needs to be severed from its biblical or
theological bonds. The importance of research history became obvious once
again in a reading of Thomas Willi: he discussed the study of Hebrew linguistics
as well as the study of the Hebrew Bible at the University of Basel since 1492 up
to the present; this fascinating path was trod by persons such as Johannes
Frobenius, to Walter Baumgartner and Ernst Jenni today.
The afternoon provided the opportunity for short papers. These pertained to
various issues such as the Pentateuch, the prophets, the psalms, wisdom, ethics,
exegetical models, Hebrew lexicography, Old Testament theology and the history
of interpretation. Various venues were available for these papers, and one could
attend according to one’s own interest. Twelve South Africans attended the
congress, and they also delivered short papers during the afternoon sessions. An
exciting part of these IOSOT congresses is to meet and to become acquainted
with all the important Old Testament scholars during the tea breaks. Our subject
acquires content and significance. A name on a book or on an article becomes a
face, someone whom one greets or to whom one has a chat. A certain fraternity
tends to develop at these IOSOT congresses, connecting all by a passion for and
an interest in the Old Testament on the one hand, and on the other an eagerness
to study the Old Testament scholarly, in the same way as those generations
before our time applied themselves. This IOSOT fraternity follows this scholarly
path in order to understand the Old Testament. By means of scholarly
involvement and by means of appropriating scholarly insights we may understand
something of the Old Testament.
Every IOSOT congress remains a special intellectual experience. (jler)
Pro Pent Seminar
The first Pro Pent Seminar took place during 31 August to 3 September 2001 at
the conference centre of the University of Pretoria in Hammanskraal (cf Old
Testament Newsletter, no 12). This seminar was presented as a working seminar.
Approximately twenty people attended per day and everyone worked hard. All
agreed that the experience was extremely informative and should be continued
on a yearly basis. We were also extremely privileged to welcome prof Eckart Otto.
His unique insights are basic to the future activities of the Pro pent Seminar.
During the Seminar other papers were also read. Jurie le Roux emphasized the
value of Pentateuch theories; Andries Breytenbach expounded critically Eckart
Otto’s views on Deuteronomy, especially his views on Deuteronomy 13; Ellen van
Wolde pointed out that the text could be read in ways other than historic critically;
Hendrik Bosman placed Eckart Otto’s ethics critically under the magnifying glass
and Jan Wagenaar lectured informatively on the Priestly document. That Sunday
morning we listened to the first part of Haydn’s ‘Schöpfung’ and discussed his
interpretation of the creation (and the Genesis narrative). On Monday morning
before our departure, the group analyzed critically all that had happened during
the weekend and debated the future of the Seminar.
As Jan Wagenaar rightly remarked, an examination into the Pentateuch is where
the boys are separated from the men. Perhaps Pentateuch research would
remain the crowning event of Old Testament scholarship, however, its research
requires high standards. Consequently a decision was taken to rather expand the
activities of Pro Pent, and the guidelines were the following:
 This is a joint project of two universities, especially the Old Testament
departments of the two theological faculties of the University of Pretoria and
the University of Münich (Germany). Eckart Otto and Jurie le Roux are the
coordinators of the project. Future planning and organization are to be carried
out by both institutions.
 Pro Pent (‘Projek vir Pentateugstudies/Project for Pentateuchal Studies’)
endeavours to stimulate and to facilitate Pentateuch research of high
standing in South Africa. This task is to be accomplished amongst others by
means of seminars (workshops) as well as by mediating information and
knowledge electronically.
 The importance of Pentateuch theories has been emphasized repeatedly.
No one makes much progress without a theory. Theories are all we have. The
words, concepts and theology of a text only make sense within, by means of
and with the help of a theory. We cannot do without one. Only reading the text
may be important and an immanent reading of the Pentateuch might bring
some interesting perspectives, but Pro Pent endeavours to read and to
understand the Pentateuch within the historical critical framework of the past
two hundred years. Because the text of the Pentateuch does not speak by
itself, reading it from a particular theoretical perspective would make sense.
Or, to put it in other words: in our study of the Pentateuch we wish to take
Pentateuch research of the past two ages seriously. This research history of
the Pentateuch contains many valuable insights into the text, perspectives on
Israel’s religious history and wisdom as regards the study of the Old
Testament, therefore we wish to appropriate and apply these anew amongst
the Pro Pent fellowship.
 The Pro Pent coin has another side to it: the ethical relevance of these
themes should be taken into account. It is not Pro Pent’s aim to study
Pentateuch theories in itself and for its own sake, or to merely identify
different layers of tradition in the text. The requirements (for Pro Pent) are
more: the ethical consequences (also for South Africa) of a specific theory
needs to be explored. As Hendrik Bosman stressed in his lecture, the word
‘ethic’ has many angles to it and we should reflect carefully upon all its
implications. Therefore some suggested we use ‘theology’. Nevertheless, it is
important to consider the ethical (or theological) implications of every
Pentateuch theory, also for today. Therefore Pro Pent refrains from theorizing
only, but also takes into account the ethical consequences of a theory.
 In view of the above, a decision was made to appropriate the theory of Eckart
Otto as a working theory. This theory should be of use for coming to grips
with Deuteronomy 12 – 26 (the point of focus for the 2002 Pro Pent Seminar).
Persons with another view on the Pentateuch are by no means excluded. The
only prerequisites as yet are: a historical orientation (text and context are
inseparable and both are to be understood by means of Pentateuch research)
and a possible relevance (a description of the ethical consequences of a
theory should have present value).
 The value of Otto’s theory is exactly that it aims at integrating Pentateuch
theory and ethics, the historical context and the ethical questions of the
time. Every redactional phase in the origin of the Pentateuch addresses a
specific ethical question or problem. An example is Israel’s confrontation with
neo-Assyrian influences during the seventh century BCE.1 According to
Assyrian custom the god Assur was enforced upon defeated nations. This god
was to be honoured and worshipped.2 A counter concept was developed
against the politics of the Assyrians. This resistance was executed brilliantly:
Assyrian ideas and terminology were borrowed and rewritten in such a way as
to honour Yahweh alone. Whilst resisting in this way, Israel discovered her
own identity and realized the uniqueness of her God. This deed of resistance
is to be noticed is the beginning of Deuteronomy and of the Pentateuch.3
Consequently this event gives rise to many ‘ethical questions’ on the
relationship between religion and the community, the nature of the resistance,
the nature of Israel’s faith in Yahweh, the attitude of the church towards
governmental power and many other issues.
Otto, E 1999. Das Deuteronomium. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 15-109.
R 1992. Religionsgeschichte Israels in alttestamentlicher Zeit, 1 & 2. Göttingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 291-304.
Otto, E 1998. Die Ursprünge der Bundestheologie im Alten Testament und im Alten Orient.
ZAR 4, 1-84; 1999. Das Deuteronomium. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1-90; 2000. Mose und
das Gesetz. Die Mose-figur als Gegenentwurf Politischer Theologie zur neuassyrischen
Königsideologie im 7. Jh. v. Chr, in Otto (red), 2000. Mose. Stuttgart:Verlag Katholisches
Bibelwerk GmbH, 43-83.
 Another example is evident in a comparison between the Hexateuch
redaction (HexRed) and the Pentateuch redaction (PentRed). Both redactions
reflect the main ethical and theological problems of the post exilic community.
Country and land are central to the Hexateuch redaction (HexRed) comprised by the books Genesis to Joshua. After 538 BCE tension mounted
as different people started to make claims on the land. These disputes
developed into a crisis concerning landownership. The Hexateuch redaction
(HexRed) regarded the land as Yahweh’s gift of grace. From Genesis 1 to
Joshua 24, known as the Hexateuch redaction (HexRed), everything is
destined towards Israel’s possession of the land. These claims on the land
appeal to many Africans, however, Yahweh’s promise of the land is but one
side of the coin.4
 The Pentateuch redaction (PentRed) also carries a message. In the
Pentateuch redaction (PentRed) the voice of the diaspora is heard. What
about those people who do not regard the land of utmost importance, or those
who have no share at all in the land? They are told that the Torah (Genesis to
Deuteronomy) is the most precious of Yahweh’s gift of grace. The Torah is put
over against the emphasis of the Hexateuch redaction (HexRed) on the land.
The Torah is the real gift that Israel should cherish. Consequently the
Pentateuch was detached from the book Joshua, and the legislation (e.g. in
the Book of the Covenant, the Holiness Code and Deuteronomy) began to
play an important role. Israel needed to focus continuously upon these laws
and delight therein, and to mediate day and night in His law (cf Ps 1:2). Once
again the ethical consequences are important. Especially with regard to the
debate on landownership in Africa the tension between the Hexateuch
redaction (HexRed) and the Pentateuch redaction (PentRed) is significant.5
A book to have
Title: Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch.
Author: Eckart Otto
Date: 2000
Publisher: J C B Mohr: Tubingen.
Obtainable at: Protea, Box 35110, Menlo park, Pretoria 0102, South
Africa. E- mail: protea@intekom.co.za
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 108,247-248,261.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 93,108.
The title conveys that this book examines the connection between Deuteronomy
and the Pentateuch as well as its link with the Hexateuch. The author attempts to
describe the ways is which the Pentateuch and the Hexateuch developed from
the sources in the book Deuteronomy. Otto’s book is important and may become
one of the major works on this theme. He dedicated this work to the University of
Pretoria: ‘Ich widme diese Monographie der Hochwürdigen Theologischen
Fakultät der Universität Pretoria, die mich mit der Ernennung zum Honorary
Visiting Professor in ihre Mitte genommen hat’.6
Evidently Deuteronomy plays a key role in Otto’s views on the origin and
development of the Pentateuch (and of course the Hexateuch). He is of the
opinion that all research into the Pentateuch should start at Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy is the cradle of the Pentateuch (and the Hexateuch). Otto accuses
recent Pentateuch studies of ‘Deuteronomiumsvergessenheit’.7 Knowledge of the
origin of Deuteronomy is indispensable for understanding the Pentateuch. This is
the Archimedes point of all Pentateuch research. 8
Over the years students at the University of Pretoria became acquainted with the
work of Gerhard von Rad. His discussion of the origin of the Pentateuch also
acknowledges that Deuteronomy plays an important role. Von Rad was of the
opinion that the Hexateuch should be the point of departure: from the larger
section (the Hexateuch) one should proceed towards the core (the credo or
creed of faith in Dt 26:5-9), and then once again return to the larger section or
final shape. The credo contains the core of Israel’s faith in Yahweh: He is the God
of history; He intervenes in the lives of people; this intervention is obvious
(according to the credo) in the lives of the patriarchs, the exile from Egypt and
the entrance into the promised land. The Jahwist in David and Solomon’s time
took these basic lines as point of departure, elaborated upon them and thus laid
the foundations for the Pentateuch: the creation and the fall are prefixed; the
patriarchal narrative is developed in terms of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob; the exodus is
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, VIII.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 1.
Vgl Otto, E 1994. Theologische Ethik des Alten Testaments. Stuttgart: Verlag W.
Kohlhammer, 175-219; 1995. Kritik der Pentateuchkomposition. ThR 60, 163-191; 1996.
Neuere Einleitungen in den Pentateuchkritik. ThR 61, 332-341; 1997. Das Deuteronomium als
archimedischer Punkt in der Pentateuchkritik, in Vervenne, M & Lust, J. Deuteronomy and
Deuteronomic literature. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 175-219.
linked to Sinai. More developmental phases of the Hexateuch followed after the
Although Von Rad acknowledged the central position of Deuteronomy, Eckart
Otto is the one who focused intensively on that book. The trigger point was an
event in the seventh century BCE, namely a resistance movement against the
neo-Assyrian abuse of political power. This resistance movement is echoed in
Deuteronomy 13:2a; 3a; 3b; 4a; 6a; 7a; 9a; 10a (cf above)10, furthermore,
the origins of the Pentateuch lie in this resistance movement. The redactional
processes towards the final Pentateuch redaction are summarized as follows:
 A late pre exilic reform program was first (Dt 6:4 vv; 12:13 – 28:44*). As
explained above, this was a reaction against Assyrian domination. The
theology of the pre exilic reform program (Dt 6:4 vv; 12:13 – 28:44*) sharply
criticizes the neo-Assyrian rule. Resistance is effected brilliantly: the
dominating Assyrian ideas and motives pertaining to governmental power
and religion were adopted: however, they were adapted to suit purposes and
meanings that were radically new and different.
 Two Deuteronomistic redactions proceeded to rework the above mentioned
late pre exilic reform program (Dt 6:4 vv; 12:13 - 28:44): Deuteronomy 5; 9
– 10; 12 – 26 * testify to the first redaction which took place during the exile.
Otto calls this first Deuteronomistic redaction ‘DtrD’. DtrD transformed the
late pre exilic reform program (Dt 6:4 vv; 12:12-28:44) into a Moses
discourse (Dt 5; 9-10) which took place at Horeb, the mount of God at the
time when the decalogue and Deuteronomy (the legislation in Dt 12 – 26)
were transmitted. The narrative of the golden calf follows (Dt 9:9-21; 10: 15). Israel failed to adhere to the main commandment. However, Yahweh
keeps his part of the deal. The exiles did not lose everything during the exile.
By realizing the decalogue, they already had the opportunity to lead a
righteous life. But Deuteronomy 12-26 was destined for the new Israel in a
new country; and the new Israel could be realized only after the exile.
 The second Deuteronomistic redaction DtrL (Dt 1-3*; 29-30*) needed to
address an important question during the post exilic time. In what way could
the new Israel (the post exilic community) prevent a devastating catastrophe
like the exile from ever happening again? DtrD could not provide an answer.
DtrL ventures by retaining DtrD, but frames this part simultaneously with
Von Rad, G 1958. Theologie des Alten Testament. München: Chr Kaiser Verlag, 111-134;
1971. Das formgeschichtliche Problem des Hexateuch, in Gesammelte Studien zum Alten
Testament. München: Chr Kaiser Verlag, 9-86.
Otto, E 1999. Das Deuteronomium. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 57.
other sections. In other words, DtrL renders a meaning totally different to the
work of DtrD (Dt5; 9-10*; 12 – 24*) by framing these sections with
Deuteronomy 1-3* and 29-30* and by linking them to the book Joshua. The
promised land becomes significant. However, the promised land could be
lost. What is to be done in order to avoid such a catastrophe? Deuteronomy
12-26 must be obeyed. The post exilic generation was fully equipped to do so
as they had received Deuteronomy (12-26*). Thus DtrL provides a clear
answer to the post exilic community: adhere to Deuteronomy (12 – 26) in
order to live and to prevent yet another exile.
 The theological reflections and concepts of DtrD and DtrL influenced the
origins of the Hexateuch and of the Pentateuch to a great extent. Both
developed from Deuteronomy. According to Otto: ‘Das Deuteronomium ist die
Wiege des Pentateuch, und in diesem Sinne ist von Deuteronomium als
“Konstitionsbuch” der restaurierten Gemeinde des nachexilischen Israel zu
sprechen’.11. In this way both the Hexateuch and the Pentateuch are shaped.
This event took place during the fifth and the early fourth century midst the
circles of the Zadokite priests. The Hexateuch redaction (HexRed) reflects
the problems of the post exilic community. Country and land were the main
issues. As the exiles returned, different people were claiming an own land
which gave rise to a crisis on landownership. The theology of the Hexateuch
redaction (HexRed) stresses the possession of the land, the actual gift of the
grace of Yahweh.12
 According to the Pentateuch redaction (PentRed) the Torah (the
Pentateuch) is of utmost importance. Over against the emphasis of the
Hexateuch redaction (HexRed) on the land, the Torah gains significance.
Interestingly the Pentateuch ends with the death of Moses (Dt 34). At the
death of Moses the Torah takes over. Moses has no substitute, except for
the Torah. Otto’s words are moving: ‘Mit dem Tod des Mose wird aus die
Sicht der Pentateuchredaktion der Pentateuch geboren. Mose hat den
Jordan nicht überschritten, wohl aber die von ihm verschriftete Tora. Mit ihr
wird an seiner Stelle die Geschichte des Volk Israel weitergehen’.13.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 265.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 196-211, 246,249,250,255,257,261.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 232-233.
Otto grounds his exposition of the origin and development of the Pentateuch on
substantial exegesis. For example, his book starts with a thorough literary
examination of the spy narratives in Deuteronomy 1:19-46 and Numbers 13:114:45. A detailed analysis is made for every word and for every verse in order to
discern the development from the early to the later stage. By means of his
profound work on the text, Otto was able to typify the unique way in which the
theology of the Hexateuch redaction (HexRed) portrays the spy narratives of
Numbers 13:1-14:45. The spying of the land is described in such a way that the
necessary links with Joshua are already established, because the possession of
the land was according to this redaction the most important gift of Yahweh. In this
way Caleb becomes part of the story line that reaches from the spying (Num
13:26-33; 14:24) to the entrance into the land (Jos 14:6-15); he becomes a link
in a chain which connects various events to the possession of the land. Otto’s
profound work on the text supports his viewpoints in a significant way.
The work of Eckart Otto challenges us to think differently about some issues. We
mention two examples. One of these is the Deuteronomistic history. Only DtrD
and DtrL refer to the Deuteronomist; a text is only Deuteronomistic if it reflects the
language and the theology of DtrD and DtrL.14 Further editions of the ‘Old
Testament Newsletter’ will return to problematic issues such as these. Another
example is the way in which Otto deals with synchrony and diachrony. He
chooses to synthetize: synchrony, diachrony, the final text and the development
of the text intertwine.15
These works of Otto are extremely important for the further activities of Pro Pent.
They are the preliminary horizons of understanding against which the Pentateuch,
the Hexateuch and Deuteronomy should be read and understood. (jler)
Jurie le Roux
Otto, E 1999. Deuteronomium. RGG 4/II, 693-696; 2000. Das Deuteronomium im
Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 266-273.
Otto, E 2000. Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch. Tübingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 266-273.