Deuteronomy 7 is a challenging text for the Christian reader of Scripture. On the one hand, it appears to give content to faithful responsiveness to the Shema' (Deut 6:4–9) in the context of Yhwh's love and election of Israel relating to the rejection of idolatry and allegiances that lead to idolatry. On the other hand, it is perhaps the primary expression of חרם‎ in the OT, commanding the utter annihilation of the local inhabitants of the promised land as Israel enters the land, and is thus a deeply problematic text. This essay will address the Christian significance of the text in several stages. First, the use of neostructuralist analysis coupled with careful analysis of the text in its context in Deuteronomy will clarify the function of the text as discourse as well as provide a frame of reference for considering its later significance, which is studied in the context of the OT and the NT. Second, the history of the Christian reception and use of the text is considered before, third, considering the nature of faithful responsiveness to God in regard to the problem of idolatry and how the perception of idolatry has developed theologically. Finally, the question of the contemporary Christian significance of Deut 7 is considered, with some exploration of the hermeneutical issues that this raises for Christian reading of the OT.

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