Reading Law: The Rhetorical Shaping of the Pentateuch
Watts here argues that conventions of oral rhetoric were adapted to shape the literary form and contents of the Pentateuch. The large-scale structure-stories introducing lists of laws that conclude with divine sanctions-reproduces a common ancient strategy for persuasion. The laws' use of direct address, historical motivations and frequent repetitions serve rhetorical ends, and even the legal contradictions seem designed to appeal to competing constituencies. The instructional speeches of God and Moses reinforce the persuasive appeal by characterizing God as a just ruler and Moses as a faithful scribe. The Pentateuch was designed to persuade Persian-period Judaeans that this Torah should define their identity as Israel.
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ancient Near Eastern apodictic argued audience authority biblical law Blenkinsopp blessings and curses Blum Chapter characterization commandments conﬂict context Covenant Code Criisemann cultic Cuneiform Law Decalogue deﬁne deﬁnition depicts describe Deut Deuteronomistic History Deuteronomy divine sanctions emphasizes Exod Exodus Ezra ﬁnal ﬁrst Genesis genre God’s Hebrew Bible historical Holiness Code identiﬁcation inﬂuence inscription instructions Israel Israel’s law Israelite Joshua JSOTSup Judaism Judean king law and narrative law codes law collections law-giver legal collections legislation Letoon Leviticus list and divine literary literature mediation Moab Moses motive clauses narrator narrator’s O’Banion obedience Old Testament oral Patrick Penta Pentateuch’s rhetoric Pentateuchal law Persian Persian Empire persuasive Press priestly prophetic public law readings public reading readers redaction reﬂect religious repetition rhetorical analysis rhetorical strategy rhetorical theory role royal sacriﬁces Second Temple Shefﬁeld Sinai speaker speciﬁc speech structure Studien Temple text’s texts Theology tion Torah tradition treaties voice YHWH YHWH’s