Abstract of Lowery, Richard Harlin. “The Reforming Kings: Cult and Society in First Temple Judah.”

Lowery, Richard Harlin.  “The Reforming Kings: Cult and Society in First Temple Judah.”  PhD diss., Yale University, 1989. [Israel/Solomon]

Abstract:  This dissertation examines the emergence of deuteronomic theology in pre-exilic Judah by reconstructing a social-economic setting for reform of the First Temple cult. The establishment and support of a monarchical state introduced serious social tensions, usually kept in check by the social and political authority of the Davidic house. The added demands of Assyrian imperialism unbalanced the equation. Judean deuteronomism grew as a response to the social unrest of the Assyrian period, channeling popular discontent away from the Davidic monarchy and toward foreign imperialism. First appearing in connection with Hezekiah’s rebellion, deuteronomic theology subsequently grew into a comprehensive program of national renewal centered in exclusive worship of Yahweh and allegiance to Yehweh’s chosen king. Chapter One summarizes current scholarship on the economy of monarchical Judah and Israel. Chapter Two examines the commanding social role of the Davidic monarchy shown in official cult reforms of the pre-Assyrian period. Chapter Three discusses Ahaz and the economic and religious impact of Assyrian imperialism. Chapter Four places Hezekiah’s cult reform in the context of his rebellion against Assyria. Chapter Five discusses Kings’ Manasseh narrative as a systematic rejection of the pre-deuteronomic First Temple status quo in preparation for Josiah’s deuteronomic reform. Chapter Six discusses deuteronomic reform under Josiah as a post-imperial top-down cultural revolution.

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