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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch

The book of Deuteronomy exhorts the people to obedience to the Sinai covenant and contains much ancient legislation. A story in 2 Kings 22 reports that in the reign of King Josiah (621 B.C.E.) a forgotten lawbook was discovered during repairs to the Jerusalem temple. Scholars believe that the book which was found forms the core of Deuteronomy: chapters 5–26 . Deuteronomy consists of this core plus a new preface which reviews the history of Moses' era, as well as supplemental material which emphasizes faithfulness to the commandments as the basis of a satisfying life for God's people. Under Josiah, the discovered book became the basis of a religious reform; it also provided a theological perspective for the writing of a history of the people from the time of Joshua up to Josiah's own time (Joshua–2 Kings).

Sometime in the postexilic era, when Jews developed an increasing interest in the role of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy was joined to the first four books to form what we now know as the Pentateuch, the “five books of Moses.”

Although this hypothesis is complex, it can be helpful to the reader in various ways. It provides a way of accounting for inconsistencies and repetitions in the text, and it also draws attention to the diversity of theological viewpoints in the pentateuchal material. Here one may see how tradition was received and reappropriated in various new historical circumstances. As the story was retold in each context, the ancient Israelites were enabled to say of the story, “It is our story, not just the story of our ancestors.” Awareness of this complexity or “depth dimension” of the Pentateuch makes the beauty of its final form all the more remarkable.

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