This project investigates the interrelationship between prophecy and politics in ancient Judah during the seventh century B.C.E. It is especially concerned with understanding the role of prophets as interpreters of political events during this period, and focuses especially on the religious reform and political restoration of Judah sponsored by King Josiah (r. 640-609 B.C.E.). In the late monarchic period. The project analyzes the various prophetic books that pertain to Josiah’s program, including those that were evidently composed during his reign (Zephaniah; Nahum; portions of Jeremiah), those from earlier periods that were read and rewritten in relation to his reform (Isaiah; Hosea; Amos; Micah), and those that were written in the aftermath of his reign (Habakkuk; Jeremiah).

The project also examines historiographical sources (Joshua; Judges; Samuel; King) and legal sources (Deuteronomy) that are relevant to understanding Josiah’s reform and its aftermath. The project has implications for under-standing the social role of prophecy in the late-monarchic period, the develop-ment of critical methods for studying biblical works pertaining to this issue, and the impact of conceptualizations concerning Josiah and his reform program on later Judean understandings of the Babylonian exile and the early Persian period restoration.

The project has currently produced the following books:  King Josiah of Judah: The Lost Messiah of Israel (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000),  The Twelve Prophets (Berit Olam; Collegeville: Liturgical/Michael Glazer, 2000), Zephaniah: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).  A fourth manuscript, 1-2 Kings: A Commentary (Old Testament Library; Louisville: Westminster John Knox) is due 2005.


Dr. Sweeney is Chair of the Editorial Board at Review of Biblical Literature (, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Claremont School of Theology and Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University.