When Was the Book of Deuteronomy Written?

James Coakley
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The historical background of the book is the period of the nation Israel just before they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land (c. 1405 BC).

Covenantal in form, this book resembles the format of ancient Near Eastern treaties, specifically the suzerain-vassal treaty texts as advanced by Meredith Kline (Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy: Studies and Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1963]), but the overall style and genre of Deuteronomy is hortatory and homiletical. Moses was exhorting the readers/listeners to certain behavior by using motivation clauses and directives. While the book does include some laws, it is not entirely a book of laws since it also contains narrative and poetry. In addition, while it does use treaty language, the word “covenant” (Hb. berith) is not used in the book to describe its overall nature. It is best to view the book, as Olson does (D. T. Olson, Deuteronomy and the Death of Moses, [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994], 10-12), mainly as a catechetical type book that distills the essential traditions and theology of Israel. The book includes the core of the faith-based education that was to be passed down from generation to generation. Deuteronomy is the closest that the OT comes to a systematic theology. Deuteronomy should not be viewed as a self-standing, independent book but as one part of a unified book, the Torah, which includes all five books of the Pentateuch.

For Further Reading:

The Moody Bible Commentary

by Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham

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