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Who wrote the book of Deuteronomy? Who was the author of Deuteronomy?

author of Deuteronomy

The fifth book of the Torah, also known as the books of Moses, derives its title from the Greek Septuagint’sto deuteronomion,” meaning “second law” or “repeated law.” In Hebrew, it is called Debarim, translated as “the words.” As the Greek title implies, Deuteronomy revisits the laws given at Mount Sinai, documented in other books of the Torah. It delves into covenant renewal with a new generation of Israelites, explores blessings and curses tied to the law, recounts Israel’s history, and features the famous Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5). Deuteronomy encompasses ethical principles, the concept of covenant, blessings of obedience, and consequences for disobedience.

As a part of the books of Moses, Deuteronomy is traditionally attributed to Moses, a pivotal figure in Scripture and an Old Testament type of Jesus. Like other books of the Torah, Deuteronomy was either directly written by Moses or dictated to scribes. Mosaic authorship is easily established, as the bulk of Deuteronomy is a collection of sermons Moses gave to Israel just before they crossed the Jordan. The book of Deuteronomy opens with this statement: “These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan” (Deuteronomy 1:1).

Someone else may have written the last chapter of Deuteronomy, which records Moses’ death. Various plausible suggestions exist. Jewish tradition attributes Deuteronomy 34 to Joshua as the most likely author, although Eleazar the priest is also considered. Notably, modern authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Matthew Henry had their works completed posthumously. It is not far-fetched to propose that the same happened with the book of Deuteronomy.

Despite Scripture’s clear attribution of Deuteronomy to Moses, some scholars deny Mosaic authorship in favor of modern hypotheses that view the Torah as a work of several anonymous authors spanning centuries. But in the New Testament, Jesus divides the Hebrew Bible into three sections: “The Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). By classifying the law as being “of Moses,” Jesus clearly affirmed that the Torah was written by Moses.

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Who wrote the book of Deuteronomy? Who was the author of Deuteronomy?
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This page last updated: February 27, 2024