1st Edition

Ritual in Deuteronomy The Performance of Doom

By Melissa D. Ramos Copyright 2021
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    Ritual in Deuteronomy explores the symbolic world of Deuteronomy’s ritual covenant and curses through a lens of religious studies and anthropology, drawing on previously unexamined Mesopotamian material.

    This book focuses on the ritual material in Deuteronomy including commands regarding sacrifice, prayer objects, and especially the dramatic ritual enactment of the covenant including curses. The book’s most unique feature is an entirely new comparative study of Deut 27–30 with two ritual texts from Mesopotamia. No studies to date have undertaken a comparison of Deut 27–30 with ancient Near Eastern ritual texts outside of the treaty oath tradition. This fresh comparison illuminates how the ritual life of ancient Israel shaped the literary form of Deuteronomy and concludes that the performance of oaths was a social strategy, addressing contemporary anxieties and reinforcing systems of cultural power.

    This book offers a fascinating comparative study which will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students in biblical studies, classical Hebrew, theology, and ancient Near Eastern studies. The book’s more technical aspects will also appeal to scholars of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, Biblical Law, Ancient Near Eastern History, Mesopotamian Studies, and Classics.


    1. Ritual studies and Deuteronomy

    2. The ritual performance of oaths

    3. Deuteronomy 27–30 and incantation rituals

    4. Ritual and the literary unity of Deuteronomy 27–28

    5. Ritual innovation in Deuteronomy


    Melissa D. Ramos is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Portland Seminary of George Fox University, USA. Her research interests include ritual in the Hebrew Bible, loyalty oaths, and feminist hermeneutical approaches.

    "The book contains many important and insightful avenues of thought––from focusing on ritual in a new way in Deuteronomy to expanding the comparative material valuable to a study of Deuteronomy––but the most important achievement in my opinion is the demonstration of how to read Deut 27–30 responsibly in a synchronic way... Her focus on ritual, and in particular the performance of ritual in conjunction with ratification of oaths/covenants, shifts the conversation of Deut 27 in profound and helpful ways." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review