Deuteronomy is a book about Israel’s preparation for a new life. Hardship and the wilderness lie behind; the conquest of the promised land lies ahead. What remains at this crucial stage in Israel’s history—the end of the Mosaic Age—is a call for a new commitment to God and a fresh understanding of the nature of the community of God’s people.
Interpreting Deuteronomy from a conservative perspective, Peter C. Craigie highlights the centrality of the book’s theme of covenant commitment while also taking great care to demonstrate how Deuteronomy is a book with considerable contemporary relevance. He uses recent Old Testament research to effectively bridge the gap of more than three thousand years that separates the modern reader from the events described in Deuteronomy, thus clarifying the primary message of the text for the modern reader. In its simplest phrasing, that message is “commit yourself to God wholeheartedly.” Deuteronomy, according to Craigie, provides a paradigm for the kingdom of God in the modern world.
“Any attempt to manipulate God for personal ends comes under the prohibition.” (Page 156)
“Verses 4–9,4 known in the Jewish tradition as the Shemaʿ,5 contain what have been called ‘the fundamental truth of Israel’s religion’ and ‘the fundamental duty founded upon it.’6 The fundamental truth has to do with the nature of God as one (v. 4); the fundamental duty is the response of love which God requires of man (v. 5). Both themes are taken up in the teaching of Jesus (Mark 12:29–30; see also Matt. 22:37 and Luke 10:27). The relationship of the two themes to the law and their importance to the Israelite are examined in vv. 6–9.” (Page 168)
“Normal circumstances would involve the normal acquisition of food supplies. But if the command of God directed the people to do something or go somewhere, the command should be obeyed; shortage of food or water, lack of strength, or any other excuse would be insufficient, for the command of God contained within it the provision of God.” (Page 185)
“The complete dependence on the word of God and God’s ability to provide is always a hard lesson for man to learn, whether in ancient times or modern. Man knows that he must work in order to provide the essentials for physical existence, but in that very labor, he may easily forget that, in the last resort, it is God who makes provision for man’s life. Thus, when the divine command comes, or when a period of testing is entered, man’s self-sufficiency is undermined, for his own ability to provide for his needs is removed and he must learn again that his existence, physical and spiritual, can only be grounded in God.” (Page 186)
Peter Craigie’s exposition of Deuteronomy is full, accurate, and illuminating. He bears in mind that Deuteronomy is not only a monument of ancient Hebrew literature but a permanent part of Christian Scripture.
—F. F. Bruce, former Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester.
Craigie’s work on Deuteronomy meets an obvious need by providing a full-scale exposition of this book of the Pentateuch in light of recent criticism and Near Eastern culture. . . . Craigie’s own translation of the Hebrew text and his uniformly helpful commentary combine to make this a serviceable volume.
—Ralph P. Martin, professor emeritus of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
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