Thomas B. Dozeman

Professor of Old Testament

Teaching and Research
Tom teaches Hebrew Bible and language courses.
His research interests are in the Pentateuch, the Former Prophets, and Biblical Theology.
Video/Media
Video(s): Click on a title to view the video.
Dr. Thomas Dozeman on the Hebrew Bible
Education
B.A., Calvin College (1975)

M.Div., Fuller Theological Seminary (1978)

M.Phil. and PhD., Columbia University (1983, 1985)

Professional
Co-Chair, Pentateuch Section, Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

curriculum vitae

Publications
Methods in Biblical Interpretation: The Book of Exodus.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Methods for Exodus is a textbook on biblical methodology. The book introduces readers to six distinct methodologies that aid in the interpretation of the book of Exodus: literary and rhetorical, genre, source and redaction, liberation, feminist, and postcolonial criticisms. Describing each methodology, the volume also explores how the different methods relate to and complement one another. Each chapter includes a summary of the hermeneutical presuppositions of a particular method with a summary of the impact of the method on the interpretation of the book of Exodus. In addition, Exodus 1–2 and 19–20 are used to illustrate the application of each method to specific texts. The book is unique in offering a broad methodological discussion with all illustrations centered on the book of Exodus.

Exodus. The Eerdmans Critical Commentary.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.

This commentary on Exodus presents a fresh translation of the text along with an interpretation of the central themes, the literary structure, and the history of the composition of the book of Exodus.

Thomas Dozeman here explores two related themes in the formation of the book of Exodus, namely, the identity of Yahweh, the God of Israel, and the authority of Moses, the leader of the Israelite people. Yahweh’s story is presented on a grand scale, an epic account. The story of Moses parallels this divine drama, drawing the mythic story of divine salvation into a model of human religious leadership.

Exodus brings these themes into focus through a new translation of the Hebrew text, the clarification of the multiple literary genres with the text, the identification of the separate authors who interpret the identity of Yahweh and the authority of Moses in different ways, and the rich insights that arise from the comparative study of the ancient Near Eastern literary tradition. Dozeman further explores the influence of the book of Exodus in the history of Jewish and Christian interpretation.

Integrating recent changes in pentateuchal composition and literary formation into this work, Dozeman has provided a comprehensive and helpful commentary that will be welcomed on the shelf of any Old Testament scholar.

Holiness and Ministry: A Biblical Theology of Ordination. Oxford: Oxford Press, 2008.
The World Council of Churches has called for renewed theological reflection on the biblical roots of ordination to strengthen the vocational identity of the ordained and to provide a framework for ecumenical dialogue. This book is a response to that call. It is grounded in the assumption that the vocation of ordination requires an understanding of holiness and how it functions in human religious experience. The goal is to construct a biblical theology of ordination that is embedded in broad reflection on the nature of holiness.

Dozeman’s study of holiness and ministry interweaves three methodologies. The first, from the History of Religions, describes two theories of holiness in the study of religion, as a dynamic force and as a ritual resource. Both play a central role in biblical literature and establish the paradigm of ordination to Word and Sacrament in Christian tradition. Second, the study of the formation of the Mosaic Office illustrates how the two views of holiness model ordination to the prophetic word and to the priestly ritual. Third, Canonical Criticism provides the lens to explore the ongoing influence of the Mosaic Office in the New Testament literature.

Holiness and Ministry will assist candidates for ordination to discern their call experience and establish professional identity within individual traditions of Christianity, while also providing a resource for ecumenical dialogue on the nature and purpose of Christian ordination.

A Farewell to the Yahwist?: The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation. Thomas B. Dozeman and Konrad Schmid, Editors. Society of Biblical Literature, 2006.
Since the “assured results” of scholarship are rarely certain, it should come as no surprise that the classical formulation of the Documentary Hypothesis has yet again been called into question. However, many North American scholars are unfamiliar with the work of a new generation of European scholars who are advancing an alternate view of the compositional history of the Pentateuch.

A growing consensus in Europe argues that the larger blocks of pentateuchal tradition, especially the stories of the patriarchs and Moses, were not redactionally linked before the Priestly Code, as the J hypothesis suggests, but existed side by side as two independent, rival myths of Israel’s origins.

This volume makes available both the most recent European scholarship on the Pentateuch and its critical discussion, providing a helpful resource and fostering further dialogue between North American and European interpreters.

God at War: Power in the Exodus Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
The destruction of the Egyptian army in the Book of Exodus is the primary story of salvation for Israel and center stage is a portrait of God in combat. Indeed, the annihilation of the enemy is commemorated by a victory hymn with the words of praise, “Yahweh is a warrior!” Such unleashing of divine power with militaristic imagery and nationalistic motives has long caught the attention of scholars.

In God at War, Thomas B. Dozeman examines ancient Israel’s confessions of divine power in the exodus. He interprets the story of the exodus as liturgy that undergoes change as Israelite worship was transformed through the experience of exile. The reinterpretation of the exodus, he argues, was achieved through additions to the story and not through the writing of new versions. Dozeman proposes that additions to Exodus were intended to modify plot structure and character interactions, creating, in the process, a new understanding of divine power. What began as a liturgy of the Day of Yahweh, celebrating God’s triumph over Pharaoh at sea and kingship in the land, evolved into an extended account of salvation history, in which the life of faith becomes a wilderness march with divine kingship in the land a hope for the future.

Through this process of literary and cultic change, divine power is also transformed; once perceived as static and independent, it becomes a more dynamic and interdependent force in the world. Combining the insights of literary and historical interpretation, this study elucidates the idea of divine power and makes a significant contribution to resurgent research on the Pentateuch as a whole.

God on the Mountain. Scolars Press, 1989.

Article(s):
“The Midianites in Numbers.” In Studies in Leviticus and Numbers, edited by T. Römer, pp. 261 – 84. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2008.

“Mapping Biblical Geography.” In Constructions of Space: Theory, Geography, and Narrative, edited by C. Camp and J. Berquist, pp. 104 – 28. Volume 1. London: T. & T. Clark, 2008.

“Place and Character in the Birth Story of Moses.” In Character Ethics in the Old Testament: Moral Dimensions of Scripture, edited by M. Daniel Carroll R. and Jacqueline E. Lapsley,
pp. 27 – 36. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007.

“Exodus 32 in the Context of the Enneateuch.” Auf dem
Weg zur Endgestalt von Genesis bis II Regnum: Festschrift Hans-Christoph Schmitt zum 65. Geburtstag am 11.11.2006, edited by Martin Beck and Ulrike Schorn, pp. 175 – 189. BZAW 370. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006.

“Geography and History in Herodotus and in Ezra-Nehemiah.” The Journal of Biblical Literature 123 (2003): 449 – 466.

“The Holiness of God in Contemporary Jewish and Christian Biblical Theology.” In God’s Word for Our World: Biblical Studies in Honor of Simon J. De Vries, edited by J. Harold Ellens, Deborah L. Ellens, Rolf Knierim, and Isaac Kalimi, pp. 24 – 36. London: T & T. Clark, 2003.

“Geography and Ideology in the Wilderness Journey from
Kadesh through the Transjordan.” In Abschied vom Jahwisten:
Der vorpriesterliche Tetrateuch in der jüngsten Diskussion,
edited by Jan Christian Gertz, Konrad Schmid, Markus Witte,
pp. 173 – 190. BZAW. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2002.

“Hosea and the Wilderness Wandering Tradition.” In Rethinking the Foundations. Historiography in the Ancient World and in the Bible. Essays in Honour of John Van Seters, edited by Steven McKenzie and Thomas Römer, pp. 55 – 70. BZAW 294. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000.

“Masking Moses and Mosaic Authority in the Pentateuch.”
The Journal of Biblical Literature 119 (2000): 21 – 43.