Ritual in Deuteronomy : The Performance of Doom book cover
1st Edition

Ritual in Deuteronomy
The Performance of Doom

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 19, 2021
ISBN 9781138570986
April 19, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

Preface and Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations



Chapter One: Ritual Studies and Deuteronomy

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Ritual Studies and Deuteronomy

1.2.1 Social Functions of Ritual

1.2.2 Liminality and Ritual in Deuteronomy

1.2.3 Ritual as Rhetorical Persuasion in Deuteronomy

1.3 Prior and Current Scholarship on Deuteronomy 27–30

1.4 Oral and Ritual Performance of Treaty Forms and Curse Themes

1.5 Conclusion

Chapter Two: The Ritual Performance of Oaths

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Oaths, Treaties, and Ritual Studies

2.3 The Performance of Treaties and Covenants

2.3.1 The Oral Performance and Aural Reception of Treaties and Oaths

2.3.2 Recovering the Oral and Ritual Performance

2.4 Ritual Action in Treaties, Covenants, and Incantations

2.4.1 Introduction to Maqlû and Šurpu

2.4.2 The Ritual Enactment of Treaties and Oaths

2.5 Conclusion

Chapter Three: Deuteronomy 27–30 and Incantation Rituals

3.1 Common Social Rhetoric and Symbolic System

3.1.1 Shared Terminology for the Oath

3.1.2 Breaking the Oath

3.2 Parallel Curse Arrangement and Structural Formulation

3.3 Congruent Curse Themes in Deuteronomy 27–30 and Maqlû and Šurpu

3.4 Cosmological Setting and the Significance of City Gates

3.5 Propagation of Curses

3.6 Conclusion

Chapter Four: Ritual and the Literary Unity of Deuteronomy 27–28

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Curse Inscriptions in the Ancient Near East and in the Levant

4.2.1 Oath Tablets and Inscribed Curses

4.2.2 Oath Stelae and Inscribed Curses

4.2.3 Judean Caves and Tombs from Iron II Judah with Inscribed Curses

4.3 What Was Written on the Stones? Literary Analysis of Deuteronomy 27

4.3.1 Framing Devices: Deuteronomy 27 and its Connection with 11–26

4.3.2 Deuteronomy 27 and its Connection with Chapter 28

4.3.3 Deuteronomy 27 as Ritual Tablet

4.4 Conclusion

Chapter Five: Ritual Innovation in Deuteronomy

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Deuteronomy 12 and the Law of Centralization

5.2.1 Coded Language in Ritual

5.2.2 Ritual Innovation Disguised

5.3 Ritual Innovation in Deuteronomy 6

5.3.1 Amulets and Ritual Inscribing

5.4 Conclusion




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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.