The Compilers' Editorial Policy
The religious scholar within the Jewish tradition takes it for granted that the book of Deuteronomy is the final chapter of the Pentateuch. The weight of tradition and the narrative of Deuteronomy itself have firmly established this book as the last segment in the Torah of Moses, representing the last words of the Prophet to his people in the wilderness. Most of those within the fold regard alternative chronologies as suspect in the extreme. Yet since the advent of that scholarship known as Higher Biblical Criticism, a debate has raged in the academy concerning the chronological relationship of "P," the priestly code and textual tradition associated with the book of Leviticus, and "D," the Deuteronomic scriptures. In fact, until recently, the favored arguments in this dispute have ascribed later authorship to "P," making the priests of Jerusalem the final contributors to the Pentateuch, perhaps even accomplishing their work in the Babylonian exile of the sixth century B.C.E. Prominent theories of religious evolution, stressing the antecedence of narrative and miracle to law and ritual detail, have been called upon to ratify the claim that the intricate Levitical code represents the latest developments in the religion of biblical Israel.
Most recently, however, especially among a new generation of Israeli and Jewish critical scholars,1 the traditional place of Deuteronomy as the last of the Pentateuch's books has regained scholarly acceptance, albeit for reasons grounded in critical theory. As evidence for Deuteronomy's late arrival, scholars point to the Jerusalem-based centrality of worship dominant in the Deuteronomic outlook, ascribing this phenomenon to a period in which the priesthood of Jerusalem was well established.
Neither side of this academic dispute has entirely vindicated itself. Without recourse to tradition, one can argue either way. In this book, I will