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Book of Deuteronomy


Author and Date of Writing

The book itself ascribes most of its content to Moses (see and and notes). For that reason, the OT elsewhere ascribes the bulk of Deuteronomy and other Pentateuchal legislation to Moses (see, e.g., , , ; ,). Similarly Jesus attributed to Moses (, , Peter attributed to Moses ( ), as did Stephen (see and notes), and Paul attributed to Moses ). See also and note; ; . At the same time, it seems clear that the narrative framework within which the Mosaic material is placed (e.g., the preamble and the conclusion [ch. ; see also ; ;,; ) comes from another -- and unknown -- hand. See Introduction to Genesis: Author and Date of Writing.

Theological Theme and Purpose

The book of Deuteronomy was cast in the form of ancient Near Eastern suzerainty-vassal treaties of the second millennium b.c. It contained the Great King's pledge to be Israel's Suzerain and Protector if they would be faithful to him as their covenant Lord and obedient to the covenant stipulations as the vassal people of his kingdom. There would be blessings for such obedience, but curses for disobedience (chs. ;).

Deuteronomy's purpose was to prepare the new generation of the Lord's chosen people to be his kingdom representatives in the land he had unconditionally promised them in the Abrahamic covenant (see Structure and Outline below; see also notes on ; ;

The love relationship of the Lord to his people, and that of the people to the Lord as their sovereign God, pervade the whole book. Deuteronomy's spiritual emphasis and its call to total commitment to the Lord in worship and obedience inspired references to its message throughout the rest of Scripture. In particular, the division of the Hebrew Bible called the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) is thoroughly imbued with the style, themes and motifs of Deuteronomy. Among the Latter Prophets, Jeremiah also reflects strong influence from this book.