In reading through scholarship on early Israelite religion, it seems to be taken for granted that the biblical account of Josiah’s reforms is accurate. From the priests to the high places to the polytheistic idolatry, there seems to be little thought given to the rhetorical nature of the biblical records. One of the papers I wrote for an archaeology class at Oxford dealt with the archaeological support for Josiah’s Reforms. It responded to the following essay question:
THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF JOSIAH‘S REFORMS IN 2 KINGS 22–23 LISTS SEVERAL ELEMENTS OF FOLK RELIGION PREVALENT IN JUDAH AND ISRAEL IN THE PERIOD OF THE MONARCHY (C. 1000 TO 586 BCE). DISCUSS THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR RELIGION IN THIS TIME AND CONSIDER HOW THIS EVIDENCE AFFECTS THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF THE CENTRALISATION OF THE OFFICIAL CULT IN THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM.
A conclusion I reached is that the account in 2 Kings 22–23 is more rhetorical than historical. I try to approach questions of early Israelite religion, insofar as they bear on Josiah’s reforms, with that in mind, and I’d like to see more of that in scholarship. The paper can be found here. As always, I am looking for ways to improve my work. Any feedback is appreciated.