Walter Brueggemann 'Deuteronomy' (Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries, Abingdon Press 2001, pp 306, US$34.00    ISBN 0-687- 08471-7)

Brueggemann argues that 'Moses' in each new generation restates Torah in fresh ways. Deuteronomy is a literary - theological trope, with the  theological accent of the text  ecclesiological.

In classic 'Brueggemann style', he  presents a 'user friendly' commentary on a book which contains the shape and substance of Israel's faith. Deuteronomy encompasses the formulation of  covenant theology, whereby YHWH and Israel  pledge exclusive loyalty to each other. It becomes an articulation of 'public theology', using old memories of Moses to authorise a political resistance to imperial domination.

Providing a historical locus for the book is difficult,  Brueggemann favouring the period of Assyrian domination, whereby a covenant with YHHWH is presented as an alternative to the foreign alliance. As such it becomes a radical assertion of 'the people of the land' in opposition to King Ahaz's deep covenantal commitment to Tiglath-pileser III.

Older Eighth Century material is contained in the first speech, with the needs of the exilic community in the third speech. Referent points of Moses, Joshua and Ezra point to a process of many "traditioning agents" who generated the book, with Levitical, prophetic and scribal sources. There is ongoing work of covenantal interpretation such as sustainable family life and a "profoundly neighbourly" ethic. In addition Deuteronomy  provides a theological statement for repeated liturgical reenactment, with emphasis on nurturing the next generation to faith, looking backwards to rootage and forward to crisis.

The commentary for the whole of Deuteronomy contains exegetical, theological and ethical  analysis. For example, the Decalog is taken as a sketch of an alternative way of envisioning and living in the world.

The Sabbath is a good example of exegeses as it commands six intrinsic keys -  occasion of a distinctive memory, public act of identity,  act of resistance,  occasion for alternative community,  inchoate earnest of environmental sanity, and  inescapably  an act of hope