James W. Watts: 0000-0002-4872-4986
Pentateuch, rhetoric, Hebrew Bible, Hebrew law, public reading
Biblical Studies | Religion | Rhetoric and Composition
The Hebrew Bible rarely depicts the reading of books or documents, but when it does, it usually portrays public readings of entire law codes. Whether by Moses, Joshua, Josiah or Ezra, law readings to public assemblies play prominent roles in various biblical books. It is not my intention in this essay to discuss Israel's tradition of law readings in depth, but rather to explore its implications for the form of Israel's extant laws as found in the Pentateuch. The tradition of public law readings points out the rhetorical function of law in ancient Israel. The accounts of readings depict these texts as influencing the audience's thoughts and persuading them to alter their behavior.
Watts, James W. "Rhetorical Strategy in the Composition of the Pentateuch." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 68 (1995): 3-22.