This article recovers a Jewish and Christian tradition about King Hezekiah as a censor and gatekeeper of scriptural texts. While modern scholarship often assumes that “traditional” interpreters had an ahistorical approach to the Bible, a thread of speculation about Hezekiah’s role in canon formation reveals that ancient readers were aware that their texts had a history: theories about their transmission were themselves a kind of biblical interpretation. This cluster of traditions rests on two aspects of Hezekiah’s portrayal in the Bible—the transmission of proverbs in his court (Prov 25:1) and Hezekiah as an anti-idolater (2 Kings)—which intertwine to refashion him as a curator of public knowledge who distinguishes between texts to be transmitted and texts to be suppressed. The motif has been overlooked because it exists largely in marginal references, but the data reveal a shared discourse about how the Bible emerged as a result of suppression and selection from a later body of revelation. Recovering this tradition challenges the sharp distinction between “traditional” and “historical-critical” approaches, which also speculate about Hezekiah’s role in the Bible’s origins. It also reveals a type of biblical interpretation that is unthreatened by the idea that Scripture developed over time—instead, speculation about the textual history of the Bible becomes another mode of animating biblical characters and episodes.

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