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

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