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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analysis ancient appear argued attention audience authority becomes Bible biblical blessings Chapter character characterization claim clauses codes collections combination commandments concerns concluding contains context Covenant criticism curses Decalogue depends depicts describe Deut Deuteronomy discussion distinction divine effect emphasizes establish evidence example Exod Exodus ﬁrst follow genre God’s Hebrew historical human inﬂuence inscription instructions intended interpretation Israel king later law codes legislation Leviticus lists literary literature material Moses motive narrative narrator nature noted Numbers obedience observed oral origins Pentateuchal law period Persian persuasive political practices present Press priestly prophetic public reading readers reading references religious repetition requires result rhetorical role royal rules sanctions seems setting shaped Sinai speaker speech story strategy structure Studies suggests Temple Testament texts Theology theory tion Torah tradition treaties University voice whole writers written YHWH YHWH’s