Scholars have long understood the cult centralization formula of Deuteronomy (Deut. 12:5, etc.) to limit worship to Jerusalem, “the place which God will choose for his name to dwell.” The common theory posits that though the formula, and the book in which it was contained, was written long after Jerusalem had become the primary cultic site in Judah, it was framed with an imperfect tense verb in order to keep up the pretense of Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy. However, the Samaritan Pentateuch has a perfect tense verb in this same formula in all twenty-one occurrences in Deuteronomy. Whereas scholars have typically seen this to be a strictly sectarian reading pointing to God’s prior choice of Gerizim as the holy site of the Samaritans, Adrian Schenker has recently argued persuasively for the priority of the Samaritan reading and that the mt ’s imperfect tense is, in fact, the sectarian alteration. This new way of understanding Deuteronomy’s centralization formula has ramifications for the origins of the book and its reception in Judah. This paper explores these issues, suggesting that the best way of understanding the authority that Deuteronomy gained in Judah is to combine Schenker’s argument about the centralization formula with E. Ulrich’s reconstruction of the text of Deut 27:4. This results in an original text of Deuteronomy that asserts that God had chosen the place for his name already at the time of Moses but did not yet identify the location. In turn, the argument presented here helps to explain the reception Deuteronomy enjoyed among both Judeans and Samaritans.
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Sep 22, 2014
Keywords: Samaritan Pentateuch; Deuteronomy; cult centralization; Mt. Gerizim
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