The Theology Of Deuteronomy 27 -- By: Paul A. Barker

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 49:2 (NA 1998)
Article: The Theology Of Deuteronomy 27
Author: Paul A. Barker

The Theology Of Deuteronomy 27

Paul A. Barker


The problems of unity in Deuteronomy 27 are usually treated diachronically resulting in an impoverished theological appreciation of the chapter. Rather than offering two equally possible options, blessing and curse, the ceremony on Mt Ebal as instructed here is biased towards curse. No blessings are recited, despite their announcement; the stones are set up on the mountain of curse and the theme of curse brackets the Pentateuch. Nonetheless there is an optimism about the chapter. However this is a result of Yahweh’s grace, not Israel’s obedience. The provision of an altar and sacrifices and the allusions to the Abrahamic covenant in particular show that Israel stands under Yahweh’s grace.

I. Introduction

Deuteronomy 27 issues instructions about a covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem to take place soon after Israel has crossed the Jordan and entered the land. These instructions concern the erection of large stones covered with the words of the law (vv. 2-4, 8), the construction of an altar (vv. 5-6a), the offering of sacrifices (vv. 6b-7), the recital of blessings and curses (vv. 9-14) and the text of a dozen curses to be recited and to which the people are to respond (vv. 15-26).

Deuteronomy 27 is usually regarded as an awkward chapter both in its relationship to the chapters preceding and following it and internally. Verse 1 seems abruptly to introduce Moses in the third person, suggesting a break with chapter 26.1 Despite a common overall theme with chapter 28, there are difficulties in relating the two

chapters. Chapter 27 lists curses but not blessings and is concerned with the nature of the offence which provokes the curse, whereas chapter 28 deals with the nature of the curse itself. Driver suggests chapter 27 is an intrusion between 26:19 and 28:1...

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