Deuteronomy 34:1ff—How could Moses have written this chapter which records his own death?

Problem: Deuteronomy 34 is a record of the death of Moses in the valley of Moab. However, the Book of Deuteronomy has traditionally been held to be the work of Moses. How could Moses have written this chapter that records his own death and burial?

Solution: First, it is not necessary to conclude that Moses could not have written his own obituary. It is entirely within the power of God to reveal the future in minute detail (cf. Daniel 2; 7; 9; 12). It is not unreasonable to believe that the Spirit of God, through Moses, penned this final chapter. Whether we take this chapter as from the pen of Moses or from the pen of Joshua or some other author, it does not at all imply that Moses was not the author of the text of Deuteronomy or the other four books of the Pentateuch.

Second, it is entirely reasonable to assume that someone, perhaps Joshua, added this final chapter to the books of Moses as a fitting conclusion to the life of this great man of God. It is not at all an uncommon practice for someone to add an obituary to the end of a work by a great man. This would be similar to the practice of one author writing a preface to the work of another author.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.