Johnny's Reviews > Moses and the Deuteronomist: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges

Moses and the Deuteronomist by Robert Polzin
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Feb 13, 2008

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bookshelves: bible

Polzin starts this work with a solid criticism of work done in Biblical Studies since the rise of the so-called "higher criticism" (literary criticism, history of religion approach, form criticism, redaction criticism, and canonical criticism) and questions the ultimate results of such criticism. Don't get me wrong. This isn't a fundamentalist who believes that Moses or any one writer has to have authored any of the biblical books in order for them to be valid, much less the complex Deuteronomic History (Deuteronomy through II Kings in the English Bible)with which he is specifically dealing in this work. Rather, he thinks (and I agree) that "higher critics" have allowed themselves to settle for dissecting various books and portions of the Bible without ever bothering to sew them back up into a coherent whole.

The bottom line is that Polzin, completely aware of all the major types of criticism listed earlier, strives to accomplish more. Using the techniques of literary analysis used on novels during the latter part of the 20th century, Polzin reaches conclusions on intentionality and emphasis that might otherwise be glossed over.

Who, for example, would have ever read the words of Deuteronomy 34:10 stating that there was no prophet like unto Moses until this day as suggesting that Israel now had a prophet like unto Moses in the editor/author/narrator who collated Deuteronomy as an interpretive anthology of Moses' words and traditions concerning Moses? Yet, I am convinced that Polzin is most likely correct.

Although I don't think this work would appeal to the casual student of the Bible, it is an important work and should help the rest of us start asking important questions about the text.

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