Found But Not Lost: A Skeptical Note on the Document Discovered in the Temple under Josiah

David Henige


In this paper I look at the famous story of the finding of
the “book of the law” in the temple during the reign of Josiah. Adopting a
pragmatic/plausible approach and keeping in mind the biblical testimony about
earlier circumstances in Judah, I argue that the story as we have it lacks
inherent plausibility and should be rejected as an etiological invention,
whether or not of the time. None of the various scenarios that could explain its
disappearance can also serve to explain why it remained hidden for so long, only
to be discovered at just the right moment to provide a willing Josiah with the
justification to begin a cultic reform program.

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