Composition of the Book of Deuteronomy


Approximate date: 1440-1400 B.C.E. (Right); 1300-1200 B.C.E. (conservative-moderate); before 623 B.C.E. and/or 500s B.C.E. (Left)

Time period: Israel preparing to enter into the Promised Land

Author: Moses exclusively (Right); Moses, Joshua, and later editors (conservative-moderate); a pious teacher or priest in Jerusalem, compiled traditions and mythologies (Left)

Location of author: wilderness journey after the Exodus (Right, conservative-moderate); Jerusalem, Babylon, and/or Land of Israel (Left)

Target audience and their location: people of Israel preparing to enter the Promised Land (Right, conservative-moderate); Jewish religious leaders during reign of King Josiah and/or Jewish exiles returning from Babylon (Left)

Theological Summary: No book of the Torah or Pentateuch is more concise, or more frequently consulted as a single reference, than the Book of Deuteronomy. The Hebrew name of this text is Devarim, meaning “words,” derived from its opening sentence: “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel” (1:1). This calls the reader to heed the words that Moses spoke. Another Jewish title seen in some works is sefer tokchanot or “Book of Admonitions.”

Our English term Deuteronomy is derived from its Greek Septuagint designation of Deuteronomion, literally meaning “second law.” This meaning is derived from 17:18 where a king of Israel is told he “shall write for himself a copy of this law.” The Hebrew of this is mishneh ha’Torah, as mishneh means “double, copy, second” (BDB). The LXX rendered this as deuteronomion. Many Christian scholars regard this as a mistranslation, even though there are many Jewish traditions that refer to the fifth book of the Pentateuch as Mishneh Torah, meaning “repetition of the Torah” (ABD), and thus Deuteronomy would not be an invalid term, being a reflection of this view.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages