Please notice, there is nothing in the text to suggest the lost
book was the book of Deuteronomy specifically rather than entire law
code of the Pentateuch. It is called the book of the law, no more, no less. Whether
the histories of Genesis had also been lost cannot be made out from
the language; perhaps even then they had a more popular character.
However, commentators like Philo Judaeus and the Rabbis also speak of the
'law,' meaning the Pentateuch in its entirety. Wellhausen was
obliged to invent the construct of the 'Hexateuch' to get around the
obvious difficulty that the book of Joshua was, a.) pre-exilic, and
b.) entirely dependent on the law of Moses. During the long dark age
of Manasseh's apostasy, when the people sunk from monotheism into
polytheism, even child sacrifice, the stories of Abraham and his
willingness to leave his home may not have seemed so inspiring; what
has a polytheist to do with Abraham?
Josiah is praised for his loyalty to the law as a whole: "And like
unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with
all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might,
according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any
like him." (2 Kings 23:25). Even in Bible-believing circles, one often sees the 'lost book'
identified as Deuteronomy. When you go back to the beginning to find out
why, it is because certain people proposed a theory as to the sources of the
Pentateuch back in the nineteenth century. It would work out nicely for their theory if this
lost/found book was Deuteronomy, or rather a portion thereof, first
drafted for the occasion they allege, and 'found' through priestly imposture. But the rest of us have no reason to be concerned about that.
Of those who go searching for the 'sources' of the Pentateuch,
some 'find' several presumed earlier than king Josiah's 'discovery'/forgery of Deuteronomy,
like the 'Jahvist,' and others later, like the post-exilic
'Priestly' source. This is by way of covering all possible bases; if
someone comes up with an undeniable quote of Moses in the prophets,
why then that's just exactly what they predicted! The bulk of the law, they think, is an imaginary
fiction, a fable, embedded within an invented history which never happened. These
people all have their own system, and exactly what hers
is, she doesn't say. She speaks favorably of Wellhausen, who gives a
date of 444 B.C. for the Mosaic code as we know it, "The Priestly
Code, worked into the Pentateuch as the standard legislative element
in it, became the definite "Mosaic law." As such it was published
and introduced in the year 444 B.C., a century after the exile."
(Julius Wellhausen. Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Kindle
Locations 7317-7318). The Pentateuch itself claims, not that it is a late forgery, but that
Moses received the law on Mt. Sinai. Deuteronomy, the 'second law,'
describes itself as a re-institution of the law, on the verge of
the people's entering the land. For readers unwilling to entertain
the accusation of deliberate forgery and imposture, the time sequence is straight-forward; Joshua read the
Pentateuch aloud: "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.
There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them."
(Joshua 8:34-35). What are the "blessings and the cursings" if not
those of the closing chapters of Deuteronomy? And Jesus confirms that Moses is the Deuteronomist.
The Lord Jesus endorses Mosaic authorship
by quoting Deuteronomy as the word of Moses. "They say unto him, Why did
Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her
away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your
hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning
it was not so." (Matthew 19:7-8). The reference is to Deuteronomy
24:1. If Jesus thought that the 'Deuteronomist' was someone other
than Moses, why does He say "Moses because of the hardness of your
hearts," etc.? According to Margaret Barker, Jesus was referring to
the 'Deuteronomist' with intentional opposition when he accused the Jews of slaying the prophets
and then building their tombs:
"When he was in dispute with some experts in the law of
Moses, he accused them of killing the prophets and building their
tombs, a reference to the Deuteronomists and their heirs suppressing
prophecy unless it had been fulfilled or was in accordance with the
law of Moses (Deut. 18.15– 22)."
(Barker, Margaret. King of
the Jews: Temple Theology in John's Gospel (Kindle Locations
But to Jesus, Moses was the Deuteronomist! If Jesus is Jehovah as she realizes, why would He be
mistaken on this point?
It is distressing that people who take the Bible's own ascription
of authorship at face value can sometimes be flim-flammed into
agreeing that 'scholars have concluded' the lost book was
Deuteronomy. Even if they have one foot in each camp and imagine that, not only was the book of
Deuteronomy freshly forged for this occasion, but the rest of the
Pentateuch was interpolated and redacted to conform to the 'new
teaching,' this as much as concedes it was the Pentateuch which was
lost. How else could a new and improved version, of books claiming
Mosaic authorship, be accepted, if there were sanctioned copies in
existence and available to the people lacking the new material?
Margaret Barker dates the existing Pentateuch as a whole after the Exile, but
seems to believe the incident of the 'lost book' is historical (why
accept that and little else?); she refers to the 'lost book' as 'Deuteronomy' and
its villainous author as 'the Deuteronomist:'
"The most important result of Josiah's purge was the introduction of
monotheism. . .The Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old
Testament) was compiled from a variety of older sources after the
destruction of the original temple, after the demise of the
monarchy, and after Josiah's purge." (Margaret Barker, Temple
Theology: An Introduction, p. 7).
Though, to take these writings at face value, it was the last
book of the Pentateuch to be written, in her dating, Deuteronomy, which she claims sparked Josiah's reform,
is actually the earliest of the five books of the law. Or rather only the nucleus of that book; the oral read-out
must have been very brief indeed! What is jarring about the whole scheme is that
the over-riding structure of time in her system is the inverse of
theirs. She cites Julius Wellhausen, who did not look back nostalgically
to a lost Golden Age, but held to the opposite. The Hegelian scheme is
that we go from primitive to advanced: onward and upward. Humanity is on
a quest, guided and mentored by the kindly 'Spirit of the Age.' Why she is not consistent to her own
beliefs, I can't say. Wellhausen's theory of 'sources' is whacky
enough; though it derives from historical principles and assumptions
she does not hold, she accepts it entire and grafts her own
mythology onto it.
The approach of the nineteenth century German critics tended to
be Hegelian, showing that all of history is an onward-and-upward
process, the apex of which is achieved in the nineteenth century
German professor. The reader must determinedly plow through purple prose
about the 'spirit of the age:' "The element in which the prophets live
is the storm of the world's history, which sweeps away human
institutions; in which the rubbish of past generations with the
houses built on it begins to shake, and that foundation alone
remains firm, which needs no support but itself."
Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Kindle Locations 7185-7187). According to our
founding genius Wellhausen, who invented (after Graf) this notion that the Mosaic
law is a post-dated fake, Israel had no written law, excepting the short-form of Deuteronomy
'discovered' in the temple, until after the exile, but relied solely
upon unwritten custom: "At all times,
then, the sacrificial worship of Israel existed, and had great
importance attached to it, but in the earlier period it rested upon
custom, inherited from the fathers, in the post-exilian on the law
of Jehovah, given through Moses." (Julius Wellhausen.
Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Kindle Locations 1192-1193). Did
the pagans have their Solon and Lycurgus? Israel had nothing beyond
"usage and tradition:" "Ancient Israel was certainly not without God-given bases for the
ordering of human life; only they were not fixed in writing."
(Julius Wellhausen. Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Kindle
Locations 7102-7103).) According to Diodorus Siculus, the defendant in an Egyptian
courtroom found himself staring up at a judge propped up upon eight
volumes spread before him: "The entire body of the laws was written
down in eight volumes which lay before the judges, and the custom
was that the accuser should present in writing the particulars of
his complaint, namely, the charge, how the thing happened, and the
amount of injury or damage done. . ." (Library of History, Book I,
75.6, Siculus, Diodorus. Complete Works of Diodorus Siculus (Delphi Ancient Classics Book 32) (Kindle Location 1623).)
Ancient Egypt had eight law books, Israel had none? That's crazy. How
are millions of people, living in cities, going to regulate their
behavior based on 'custom'? The tabernacle was an imaginary structure modeled after the temple,
not vice versa? It goes on and on. Prior to the exile, the Hebrews never
imagined there was any connection between their moral lapses and
God's wrath, ". . .to Hebrew antiquity the wrath of God was
something quite incalculable, its causes were never known, much less
was it possible to enumerate beforehand those sins which kindled it
and those which did not." (Julius Wellhausen. Prolegomena to the
History of Israel (Kindle Locations 1586-1588). Think that prospect
was terrifying? No, the simple people danced in the streets: "The ancient
offerings were wholly of a joyous nature,— a merrymaking before
Jehovah with music and song, timbrels, flutes, and stringed
instruments." (Julius Wellhausen. Prolegomena to the History of
Israel (Kindle Location 1593). This stuff is nuts.
By comparing Josiah's reform with earlier religious reforms, like
those of kings Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat, we can verify the
Pentateuch existed, in toto, prior to this discovery. To readers who are willing
to credit more than one incident plucked out from an imagined mass
of fabrications, the 'lost book,'— how would we ever know there was a 'lost book'
had we not read it in the histories?— is plainly not a 'new book.' Under king Jehoshaphat,
instructors fanned out across with Israel with book in hand: "So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people."
(2 Chronicles 17:9). Now we know of course that never happened, because,
"The impossibility of such a judiciary system in antiquity is clear
from its presupposing the Book of the Law as its basis. . ."
(Julius Wellhausen. Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Kindle Locations
3501-3502). Is that circular enough for you? Let Athens have her Areopagus,
and Rome its Twelve Tables; Israel can have no judges, because then she
would have had a Law. This is nonsensical. Why would Israel be the only
settled community in the region with walled cities that has no law?
When we look at religious reformers prior to
Josiah, we see that they tore down the Asherim just like he did, even going
back to the time of the judges; there was
never any fond feeling between worshippers of God and devotees of
Astarte. Cutting down and burning an Asherah pole was not a new thing with Josiah, Gideon did the
same: "Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him,
'Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull
down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down
the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your
God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a
second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah
which you shall cut down.'" (Judges 6:25-26 NASB). To make the
Israelite theocracy safe for 'The Lady,' they need to start
making her groves out of flame-proof materials!
Jehoshaphat appointed judges: "And Jehoshaphat
dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from
Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God
of their fathers. And he set judges in the land throughout all the
fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Take
heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is
with you in the judgment." (2 Chronicles 19:4-6). Why, if he never
read, "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates,
which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they
shall judge the people with just judgment." (Deuteronomy 16:18).
Following Jesus' attribution of authorship, we realize that Moses
wrote the book of Deuteronomy, which does not then fit naturally into the villain
role she assigns to it: "The Davidic kings used to ascend to heaven
and sit on the throne, but Deuteronomy, as we have seen, rejected
the idea of anyone going to heaven to bring down knowledge."
(Barker, Margaret (2014-04-17). King of the Jews: Temple Theology in
John's Gospel (Kindle Locations 2892-2893). SPCK.) In her morality tale,
the people wearing the white hats are the 'First Temple' folks, the Deuteronomist is the villain who breaks up the party and tells
people they cannot be gods, because there is only one God. Jesus is
supposed to be on her side of this dispute. However
Jesus, and the early Christians, display no animus against the Deuteronomist, whom they consider to be Moses.
She sees a sharp break: "The ethos of the pro-Moses tradition was very different from that
of the sacral kings which Jesus restored." (Margaret Barker, King of
the Jews: Temple Theology n John's Gospel, Kindle location 10181). It's true some of the
early Christian authors, like the author of the letter of Barnabas
and Justin Martyr, feel the need to explain Moses away, though for
other reasons; but Jesus does not, and no contemporary
evangelical Christians takes anything like that approach. To her way
of thinking, it was the villainous Deuteronomist who first
cultivated that poisoned plant, monotheism:
"This way of reading was not devised by the Christians
following Jesus’ example; it is how the Hebrew Scriptures were
originally written, before monotheism was imposed in some circles by
Josiah’s purges and the work of the Deuteronomists. El and Yahweh
then coalesced, and a new way of reading the Hebrew texts was
(Barker, Margaret (2014-04-17). King of the
Jews: Temple Theology in John's Gospel (Kindle Locations 5465-5467).
Looking at events subsequent to the discovery of the lost book,
it is apparent that it was the law, not just
the book of Deuteronomy, which had been lost during the times of
apostasy under Manasseh. Josiah's religious reform included the celebration of the
Passover, apparently a relative novelty, although we know the Passover
was celebrated under king Hezekiah:
“Then the king commanded all the people, saying, “Keep
the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in
this Book of the Covenant.”
“Such a Passover surely had
never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel,
nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of
Judah.” (2 Kings 23:21-22).
The Passover is described in greatest detail in the book of Exodus.
This observance would never have been omitted or abandoned if the only
part of the law not at hand was Deuteronomy. People who do not first
embrace Wellhausen's theory that the Mosaic law is an imaginary, back-dated law
code must conclude the lost/found book is the
Pentateuch. What happened under these apostate kings is shocking and
appalling. The law was put aside, unread. How far and how fast a society
can fall is alarming. No one could suppose that all of this information had been
lost in the interim, some of it must have been embedded in custom, but the canonical written text of the law
was not in the hand of the king. Finding the law was an occasion for joy,
but also for sorrowful repentance, because they had not been observing
it. Whether all of this material had been lost in the dark
era of Manasseh's apostasy, or whether excerpts from these texts had
been blended into their syncretistic, polytheistic worship cannot now
be determined. What had not been forgotten, and left unobserved, was not the issue,
but what had been.
Not that robbery or murder are likely to have been legal in the intervening
period, but the syncretists of the day had taken from
Jehovah what they liked, and taken from Baal, Astarte and their colleagues
in the pantheon what they liked, arriving at a pleasing synthesis, and then put Moses'
work away where no rabble-rousing fundamentalist could make it the
basis of an accusation. We see the same thing in our day, when liberals,
disliking what the Bible says about homosexuality, simply ignore it,
though the possibility of suppressing the text no longer exists.
Manasseh's reign was the triumph of liberalism. Since literacy cannot have been widespread
at this time period, a copy of the law would not have weighed down
everybody's coffee table in every private residence, even amongst
the minority who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Once the
canonical original was rediscovered, those faithful to Jehovah were
aghast to learn they were not doing what they were supposed to do,
and were doing what they were not supposed to do.
While it is not possible to prove that all 613 provisions of the
law were in force prior to Josiah's religious reformation, much of
Moses' legislation was certainly well understood prior to that time,
including but not limited to the contents of Deuteronomy. Comparing
the 'earlier' parts of the Bible, the Psalms, the prophets, and the
histories, with the 'later' Mosaic law code, one finds remarkable
convergences in the moral code and socio-economic legislation. But,
to listen to these folks, there cannot be any causal nexus here, because we know a later
forgery cannot pre-determine an earlier work. So when it turns out the Psalmist realizes it is wrong to charge
interest, we must exclaim, what a coincidence!
"Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?.
. . He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent."
Because, wouldn't you know it, Moses said not to: "If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest."
(Exodus 22:25). Many ancient polities regulated interest rates. How
many of them forbade it altogether? Or to a brother, at any rate.
"Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your
brother may live with you." (Leviticus 25:26, Deuteronomy 23:19).
Who is a brother? Good neighbor Philo thought, anybody who lives in
the same country: "Therefore Moses forbids a man to lend on usury to
his brother, meaning by the term brother not only him who is born of
the same parents as one's self, but every one who is a fellow
citizen or a fellow countryman, since it is not just to exact
offspring from money, as a farmer does from his cattle."
(Philo Judaeus, On the Virtues, XIV. (82).)
Ruth gleaned the fields after the harvesters had been through: “So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi,
'Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.'”
(Ruth 2:2). Yet nobody had ever heard of Leviticus 19:9, “When you reap the
harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your
field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you
shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of
your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I
am the Lord your God,” because that had not yet been written.
King David burned the Philistines' idols:
"And when they had left their gods there, David gave a
commandment, and they were burned with fire." (1 Chronicles 14:12,
2 Samuel 5:21).
Jehu burned the Baals:
"And they brought forth the images out of the house
of Baal, and burned them." (2 Kings 10:26).
How did they know to destroy the idols with fire? Was it from,
"But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy
their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their
groves, and burn their graven images with fire. . .The graven images
of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the
silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be
snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God."
Fire purifies; but perhaps the correct procedure for disposing of
an idol is to toss it in the garbage dump. But Deuteronomy 7:25 says
to burn it, so burn it they did. The priests of Baal did not long
survive their show-down with Elijah on Mount Carmel. How was it
known that Israelites who follow strange gods are eligible for the
death penalty? Could they have learned it from Deuteronomy 13:13 or Deuteronomy 17:2?
Religious reformers prior to Josiah were aware of texts like Exodus 20:20: “He who sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”
These cannot have been novel understandings introduced by Josiah,
when zealous men of God were already acting in accordance with them
back in the time of the judges.
Many of the laws were not always observed, like the provisions against multiplying wives; that does
not mean they were unknown. Laws are violated every day in every way in
our own righteous nation, as well. Moses' legislation against necromancy was well understood.
Otherwise, on what basis did Saul expel the mediums from the land?
"And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest
what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have
familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore
then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?" (1
It is not self-evident that consulting mediums in hopes of
establishing communication with the dead is an offense against
monotheism. Many people who think of themselves as monotheists have
patronized mediums; there was a craze in nineteenth century America
and England for table-rapping. These people all had Bibles on the
mantle at home, which read, in part,
"Regard not them that have familiar spirits,
neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD
your God." (Leviticus 19:31).
"And the soul that turneth
after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a
whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul,
and will cut him off from among his people.
"A man also or
woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall
surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their
blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:6-7).
shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his
daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or
an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a
necromancer." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).
So we know why Saul thought it was the right thing to do to expel
these entrepreneurs from the land. We don't know why he then decided
he needed to patronize somebody in that business, nor for that
matter why James Pike, a bishop of the Episcopal church in the
1960's decided he needed to establish communications with his
deceased son. But there is no good reason to think Moses' law did not
exist prior to King Josiah. Here is the whole ball of wax: