Divine Rights: The Distribution of Power in Deuteronomy

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Abstract: Is Deuteronomy a constitution for the administration of a state? The law code distributes power to many functionaries—priests, prophets, elders, judges, officers, and kings—but their respective areas of authority are vaguely defined and often overlapping. The code imagines a figure with the power to sort out this confusion, addressed only as “you.” Close attention to the characterization of “you” reveals two most likely addressees, wealthy landowners and the king. This ambiguity encouraged Jerusalem’s elites to compete for power by claiming to represent the law of Moses, so that, whoever won, the cause of “Deuteronomism” was advanced.

Biography: Stewart Moore holds theological degrees from Drew University and Yale Divinity School. He is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible at Yale University, with a focus on Judaism in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. His undergraduate work in theater comes in handy more often than you’d think. He is the husband of Emily and the father of Elisabeth.

Volume 3, Number 4 (Fall 2008) pp. 325-351