Studying Deuteronomy and its Canonical Influence

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of study of the books of the “Deuteronomistic History” (i.e., Deuteronomy-2 Kings), I was directed to J. Gordon McConville’s little book Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology.  I was in the midst of reading some of the standard critical academic texts by Marvin Sweeney, Thomas Romer, Moshe Weinfeld, and Martin Noth.  I asked a friend who was teaching through the historical books if there was a solid, evangelical treatment of the theological contribution of these books of which he thought especially highly.  He recommended McConville.  I skimmed a library copy 5 or 6 years ago, but have recently purchased the book and am now diving in.

Though only at the beginning, I loved this dramatic introduction.  For the first paragraph of chapter 1, McConville writes:

Deuteronomy is one of the great theological documents of the Bible, or of any time.  The mere fact that Jesus quotes more often from it than from any other book of the Old Testament is perhaps a sufficient invitation to a study of its theology.  Its effects on his mind is also a symptom of its massive importance in forming the thinking of ancient Israel and in serving as backdrop to many of the discussions in later Judaism.  As the final book of the Pentateuch and the great Mosaic invitation to life in covenant with Yahweh, it breaks free from its moorings in tribal, agricultural Israel – though that milieu breathes through its motley laws – and goes to the heart of the great issues of the relationship between God and human beings.

Pg. 9 (bold emphasis added)

So far I’ve found this volume to be methodologically vigorous, well-versed in both the primary and secondary literature, and canonically sensitive.  I’m especially glad to see his engagement with so much German scholarship, something many are unable to do on account of the language barrier.  McConville also has a more recently published commentary on Deuteronomy.  When I have the chance to dive in to that book in earnest, I intend to pick it up as well.

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R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)
Anaheim, CA

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