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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Literary History.

1.

Deuteronomy developed from a law code to an oration of Moses within a narrative frame. The original law code aimed at a cultic reform in Judah and addressed its lay audience in the second person singular. It consisted of laws which were relevant to the centralization of sacrificial worship ( 12:13–19; 14:22–9; 15:19–23; 16:1–17; 18:1–8 ) and probably also of laws concerning social and judicial matters ( 15:1–18; 16:18–19; 17:8–13; 19:1–21; 21:1–9; cf. Morrow 1995 ), family and sex laws (see DEUT G.I), laws promoting equity in response to poverty (mainly in 23:15–25:16 ), and some ritualistic materials (e.g. 21:22–3; 22:9–10; 23:17–18 ), cf. Crüsemann 1996 . 6:4–9 may have been the prologue to this law code. However, any detailed reconstruction of the original law code remains highly hypothetical. Whether or not it was presented as a law of Moses depends on the evaluation of 4:44–5 as its superscription.

2.

The incorporation of Deuteronomy into the Deuteronomistic History was a distinct stage in its literary history (see DEUT C. 2 and F.3), which created an explicit interrelation between the law and the issue of Israel's land as well as the differentiation between the law code and the Decalogue in ch. 5 . In this process, the historians added laws to the code which look towards the subsequent history of Israel, such as the law on the king ( 17:14–20 ) and the law on the conquest ( 20:10–18 , and further laws on warfare, see DEUT G.I).

3.

The literary development of the paraenetic sections in 4:1–40; 6:4–11:25; 29:2–30:20 as well as of the laws which are primarily concerned with the problem of syncretism or religious assimilation such as 12:1–7, 29–31; 13:1–18; 18:9–20 is a special problem (see DEUT F.4). Many suggestions have been made for attributing the respective texts to only a few successive editions or redactional layers. However, it seems more appropriate to think in terms of a prolonged literary process which led to what ideally may be called the canonical shape of Deuteronomy no earlier than the 4th century.

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