God’s greatest spokesman in Old Testament times was Moses, and what was communicated to and through Moses is summarized in the book of Deuteronomy. This book can be considered the heart of the Old Testament. Jesus and the religious leaders of his day agreed that the Old Testament could be summarized in two short sentences:
1. Love God with all your heart.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
These statements of the essence of man’s responsibility to God and man appear in Deuteronomy, spoken by Moses on behalf of God.
Old Testament scholars seem to agree that Deuteronomy, along with the rest of the Pentateuch, was in its present literary form by about 400 B.C. However, for the dating of its original composition there are two options to consider.
The view that Deuteronomy was written by Moses, who lived in 1,400/1,300 B.C., is expressed in the New Testament by Jesus and the apostles. In written form Deuteronomy was regarded as authoritative for the Israelites from the time of Moses and for the Jews of Jesus’ day.
The other view, one widely popular in Old Testament scholarship, is that Deuteronomy was written in the time of Josiah, king in Jerusalem about 600 years before Christ. Whatever in it can be attributed to Moses was transmitted orally during the course of at least six centuries and then written in what is known as the D document. Through creative editorial efforts the book of Deuteronomy achieved its present written form when the Pentateuch was completed, by about 400 B.C.
Considering Deuteronomy as a religious communication, let us examine these two options. First we shall consider Deuteronomy as a seventh or sixth-century document written during the days of Josiah.
Deuteronomy has been a focal point of scholarly interest for ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more