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Transjordan in Deuteronomy: The Promised Land and the Formation of the Pentateuch

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 4, 2013
pp. 769-789 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0055



This article addresses two problems commonly discussed in recent literature on the Pentateuch: the relationship between the Sihon episodes in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and the role of Deuteronomy 34 in the final stages of the Pentateuch’s formation. The first section demonstrates that the conquest of Sihon is an addition to Deuteronomy designed to incorporate the Transjordanian plateau into the concept of the promised land, made after Deuteronomy had already been incorporated into the end of the wilderness narrative. The second section demonstrates that the final installment of Moses’ death scene in Deut 34:1–6, 8 is also part of this revision and reconsiders its relation to the previous installments in Num 27:12–23 and Deut 32:48–52. In the course of discussing these passages, the article employs concepts from literary and linguistic theory—theme and horizon, accommodation, implied author, conceptual integration (or blending), reference repair—in an effort to reconsider the role of style as a criterion for determining composition history, concluding that it sometimes says more about how a revision to the text was made than about who made it.

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