Three Perspectives on the Deuteronomic Law: Social, Canonical, and Theological

Building on the text-linguistic approach of DeRouchie (2007), the study begins with a macroanalysis of the covenantal structure of Deuteronomy. The analysis validates the book’s covenantal structure as a canonical extension of the decalogue, whereby Deuteronomy 5 supplies the nucleus for the ten primary categories of law expounded in Deuteronomy 6–26. The study then compares the covenantal-canonical approach of DeRouchie et al. with a socio-historical analysis of particular case laws situated throughout the book. In particular, this section examines the worldview implications of the social and ethical analyses of Hoffecker (1986, 2007), Wenham (2013), and McConville (2013). Finally, the socio-historical and canonical perspectives are compared with the confessional theological perspectives on the decalogue articulated in the Westminster and Heidelberg catechisms. The analysis from Vogt (2006) sheds further light on the theological significance of the deuteronomic law, with its emphasis on the unique kingship of YHWH in contrast to other models of ANE kingship. The supremacy of YHWH and the perpetual significance of Torah offers an added dimension to the foregoing analysis of the Israelite worldview in its socio-historical context. The study concludes that no single perspective is sufficient to grasp the ethical and theological significance of the deuteronomic law, as the social, canonical, and theological perspectives must converge to allow the decalogue its fullest expression.

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