The Nature of Subversion

In the midst of my work on Israelite ethnic identity and the book of Deuteronomy, I had cause to reflect on the widely accepted theory that Deuteronomy, especially in chapters 13 and 28, is intended to subvert the Assyrian Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon.

In Israel and the Assyrians: Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion (Society of Biblical Literature, 2014) I challenged this theory, arguing that the evidence for such a relationship between Deuteronomy and the Succession Treaty is wholly inadequate. I also rejected the suggestion that Deuteronomy is a subversive appropriation of more general Assyrian concepts of political loyalty. To achieve this I drew on theories of adaptation and allusion from film and literary studies, providing a theoretical foundation for a discussion of subversion and its detection. The argument undermines a major touchstone for the pre-exilic dating of Deuteronomy, as well as problematising the Israelites’ relationship with the Assyrian empire more generally.

For more on how I reached these conclusions, see here.