Moses, rhetoric, Pentateuch, divine law, Judaism, Bible
Biblical Studies | Religion | Rhetoric and Composition
The force of law depends on the authority of its promulgator. Self-characterizations by lawgivers play a vital role in persuading hearers and readers to accept law and in motivating them to obey it. Pentateuchal laws therefore join narratives in characterizing law-speakers as part of a rhetoric of persuasion. They present, however, two speakers of law, one divine (YHWH) and the other human (Moses). I will show that this dual voicing of pentateuchal law has two effects: it restricts Deuteronomy's prophetic characterization of Moses to the narrower definition of prophecy presented in the previous books, while it uses Moses' scribal role to present a unifying rhetoric of divine law.
Watts, James W. "The Legal Characterization of Moses in the Rhetoric of the Pentateuch." Journal of Biblical Literature 117.3 (1998): 415-426.