Bakhtin Revisits Deuteronomy: Narrative Theory and the Dialogical Event of Deut. 31:2 and 34:7

  • David A. Bergen


In 1980 Robert Polzin engaged the narrative structure of Deuteronomy and introduced Mikhail Bakhtin's literary theory to biblical studies. Few however have carried forward the implications of this pioneering work, leaving Bakhtin and the narrator sidelined in critical Deuteronomic discussions. This paper demonstrates the unrealized potential inherent in Bakhtin's dialogic theory for the interpretation of biblical narrative. Reading with sensitivity the voice structure of Deuteronomy, it is possible to discern not only a dialogic angle between Moses and the narrator, but also a subtle polemical nuance in the narrator's superlative evaluation of Israel's first prophet.