Central sanctuary and the centralization of worship in ancient Israel from the settlement to the building of Solomon's Temple : a historical and theological study of the biblical evidence in its archaeological and ancient Near Eastern context
This thesis examines the history and theology of the centralization of worship. Part I examines the theology of the central sanctuary and local sanctuaries, especially from the standpoint of divine presence. Part II carries out an exegesis of the centralizing altar laws of the Pentateuch, together with an examination of their narrative and conceptual relationship to the noncentralizing altar laws of the Pentateuch. Part III examines the history of the centralization of worship from the settlement to the building of Solomon's temple. The study is contextualized by an examination of relevant archaeological and ancient Near Eastern material. Emphasis is placed on the dating of the various biblical materials under investigation, and their overall rhetorical concerns. It is argued that as well as being present in heaven, Yahweh is present on earth continuously at the ark at the central sanctuary and intermittently at local altars. Priestly material argues for the importance of the central sanctuary, but also allows local altars. Deuteronomy envisages centralization under conditions of peace and complete settlement, but otherwise allows local altars. During the earliest days of the settlement, there was no centralization requirement. In the last days of Joshua, Shiloh became the place where Yahweh's name dwelt and centralization was implemented. During the Judges period, centralization was not possible because of the disturbed situation. With the loss of the ark to the Philistines at Aphek, Shiloh was rejected as the chosen place, and there was no place in which Yahweh's na me dwelt until the building of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. The history and theology of the centralization of worship are thus compatible with each other within the period discussed, whatever the date and provenance of the relevant biblical material. However, the history of the central sanctuary and the literary form and rhetorical concerns of the book of Joshua suggest that it and the sources it uses, such as Deuteronomy, may have been written before the disaster of Aphek and the rejection of Shiloh.