How to Love God: Deuteronomy, Early Rabbinic Literature, and Gospel Texts, by Deena Grant

The command to love God in Deuteronomy 6:5 poses a puzzle. The verse demands love, but does not explain how to achieve it. Comparing Deuteronomy’s covenant structure to other ancient Near Eastern covenant treaties, modern scholars conclude that Deuteronomy 6:5 charges Israel to perform acts of love. And yet, scholars also suggest that God’s passionate love for Israel demands a reciprocal emotional response from them. In attempts to elucidate Deuteronomy’s command, both the rabbis of the first few centuries of the Common Era and the Gospels single out specific actions that constitute loving God. However, the sources diverge with regard to which actions they highlight.  Significantly, Deuteronomy, the early rabbis, and the Gospels all hint that God’s own love for His people is the model of love toward which devotees should aspire.

Keywords: Deuteronomy, love, early rabbinic literature, Gospels, biblical interpretation

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