Deuteronomy 1-11 (NICOT) by Bill Arnold

Bill Arnold gives us here the first of two volumes to replace the long-used work of Peter Craigie in the venerated NICOT series. Deuteronomy is one of the pivotal books of the Old Testament, so it is key to the success of the series. Bill Arnold, who has become the editor of the series, tackles Deuteronomy himself. What he has delivered is a quality work of mature scholarship.

The thorough introduction begins with background on narrative horizons and unity of composition that really highlights structure and distinctive features that actually open up the big picture for Deuteronomy. As he continues, he dives deep into how scholarship has thought of Deuteronomy including the famous redaction criticism that dominated Deuteronomy studies for decades. Though the theories of Graf-Wellhausen and Noth strike me as intensely rancid as found on the trash heap where they justly landed, Arnold laid out that history in an understandably, and I must add, surprisingly for me, an interesting way. Arnold is more accommodating to some ideas than I feel comfortable with, but he compensates for me with tone and clear writing to still find much value.

I enjoyed the rest of the Introduction and thought its greatest strength was its big picture presentation rather than some occasional details that seemed suspect to me. The theology section was especially rich and seemed to work in more big-picture analysis that delivered more than you get in many such theology overviews. He kind of showed off his scholarly prowess here in an accessible way.

The commentary proper covering Deuteronomy was all you would hope from a series designed like the NICOT. Mature, thoughtful, thorough, even penetrating, all come to mind. I will look forward to the second volume until it arrives. This volume will easily be one of the better major commentaries on Deuteronomy. For example, I thought it a more successful production than McConville’s Apollos volume on Deuteronomy.

NICOT is really picking up steam as a series and this one treats Deuteronomy with the star treatment it deserves.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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