1. The importance of the book
3. Authorship, date and provenance
4. Some literary features of Deuteronomy
Additional note: the Holy War principle
The decision completely to revise the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries is an indication of the important role that the series has played since its opening volumes were released in the mid-1960’s.
They represented at that time, and have continued to represent, commentary writing that was committed both to the importance of the text of the Bible as Scripture and a desire to engage with as full a range of interpretative issues as possible without being lost in the minutiae of scholarly debate. The commentaries aimed to explain the biblical text to a generation of readers confronting models of critical scholarship and new discoveries from the Ancient Near East, while remembering that the Old Testament is not simply another text from the ancient world. Although no uniform process of exegesis was required, all the original contributors were united in their conviction that the Old Testament remains the word of God for us today. That the original volumes fulfilled this role is evident from the way in which they continue to be used in so many parts of the world.
A crucial element of the original series was that it should offer an up-to-date reading of the text, and it is precisely for this reason that new volumes are required. The questions confronting readers in the first half of the twenty-first century are not necessarily those from the second half of the twentieth. Discoveries from the Ancient Near East continue to shed new light on the Old Testament, whilst emphases in exegesis have changed markedly. Whilst remaining true to the goals of the initial volumes, the need for contemporary study of the text requires that the series as a whole be updated. This updating is not simply a matter of commissioning new volumes to replace the old. We have also taken the opportunity to update the format of the series to reflect a key emphasis from linguistics, which is that texts communicate in larger blocks rather than in shorter segments such as individual verses. Because of this, the treatment of each section of the text includes three segments. First, a short note on Context is offered, placing the passage under consideration in its literary setting within the book, as well as noting any historical issues crucial to interpretation. The Comment segment then follows the traditional structure of the commentary, offering exegesis of the various components of a passage. Finally, a brief comment is made on Meaning, by which is meant the message that the passage seeks to communicate within the book, highlighting its key theological themes. This section brings together the detail of the Comment to show how the passage under consideration seeks to communicate as a whole.
Our prayer is that these new volumes will continue the rich heritage of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries and that they will continue to witness to the God who is made known in the text.
David G. Firth, Series Editor
Tremper Longman III, Consulting Editor
When I commenced my very first solo student pastorate at North Auburn Baptist Church in Sydney, in 1968, I decided to begin my pastoral ministry by preaching through the book of Deuteronomy.
Now, in the final year (2010) of my official working life as Senior Lecturer in Old Testament at the Bible College of Victoria, I have found myself completing a five-year project, writing a replacement for the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary on Deuteronomy written by Dr John Thompson in 1974. In so doing, I believe that Deuteronomy has provided a kind of bookend to my life’s story.
Deuteronomy is rich in spirituality, and is arguably Old Testament preaching at its best. What struck me most about the book were the powerful and rhetorical echoes of the burning bush narrative from Exodus 3. Thus, in Deuteronomy God continually speaks to Israel from out of the fire, as a way of eliciting an appropriate fear and obedience to his word that would serve and bless them for ever (5:29; 10:12–13). This in no small way drives the narrative throughout, for Yahweh, Israel’s sovereign God, continues to burn with jealous love and judgment towards his people to the very end, and expects his people to love him with equal passion (6:4–5).
Writing a commentary of this kind cannot be undertaken in a vacuum. Acknowledgment and thanks are here made for the many commentaries, monographs and articles that I have consulted in the preparation of this work. My special thanks are also directed to David Firth, for his helpful and patient editing of the manuscript throughout its preparation.
Finally, I would like to pay special tribute to my former lecturers with whom I began my spiritual journey and training at The Baptist Theological College of New South Wales (now known as Morling College), in Sydney from1966 to 1970. These include Principal B.G. Wright (Theology), Rev. N. P. Andersen (Dean and Lecturer in Church History and Religious Education), Rev. E. R. Rogers (New Testament and Greek) and Rev. Dr V. J. Eldridge (Old Testament and Hebrew). These godly men ought never to be forgotten, for, like Moses in Deuteronomy, they have seen the Promised Land from afar, and have shared its lasting glory with generations of their grateful students.
E. J. (Ted) Woods