YHWH is King: The Development of Divine Kingship in Ancient Israel

On the first day of the book exhibit at SBL I swung by the Brill booth quite early to gather up the complimentary journals and to look at new releases. I was exited to see Shawn Flynn’s new book, YHWH is King: The Development of Divine Kingship in Ancient Israel, was available a few months early, and then was annoyed to see someone had already reserved the one copy. The book is an edition of Flynn’s 2012 University of Toronto doctoral dissertation, When on High Yahweh Reigned: Translating Yahweh’s Kingship in Ancient Israel (PDF available at the link; the dissertation abstract is below). The book approaches the development of divine kingship in part through the lens of cultural translation (cf. Smith and Assmann), which sounds promising to me. Check it out, and if you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

This dissertation identifies two distinct stages of YHWH’s kingship in ancient Israel: an earlier warrior king with a limited sphere of geographic influence, and a later, Judahite creator king with universal power and absolute rule. After identifying these stages, this dissertation proposes the historical context in which the change to YHWH’s kingship occurred. Articulating this change is informed by the anthropological method of cultural translation and studied via a suitable historical analogue: the change in Marduk’s kingship and the external pressures that lead to the expression of his universal kingship in the Enuma Elish. The Babylonian changes to Marduk’s kingship form a suitable analogy to articulate the changes to YHWH’s kingship in the Levant. Therefore Judahite scribes suppressed the early warrior vision of YHWH’s kingship and promoted a more sustainable vision of a creator and universal king in order to combat the increasing threat of Neo-Assyrian imperialism begun under the reign of Tiglath-pileser III.


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