The above, which differs in the main from your two earlier theories that I just finished critiquing in my last post, is an improvement on both... it still suffers, however, from a number of difficulties. The evaluation of "aesthetically pleasing" is far too subjective and unnecessary to make your case. The point about the blood covenant and separating out the words of the 'decalogue' from it, repeated from one of your earlier theories, is problematic for the reasons I outlined previously and do not need to be repeated. An editor who adds something to a text is less
rogue that one who both excises and
adds text... that should be straightforward enough based on the mechanics involved.
The text flagged in blue within the quote box comprise your strongest points... they collectively provide a possible (though not probable) reason not only for why a scribe might have substituted sections of the covenant code for the 'traditional' decalogue, but also added the verses about Moses writing these words of the covenant down --- that the editor forgot to adjust 34:1 to conform with his changes is an acceptable explanation for the tension. The primary difficulty in this latest theory of yours lies in distinguishing the aforementioned motivation for change from simply being the original intent of the author/redactor of chapters 32-34 as a whole. A great deal more work is required in terms of applying a method to both make this distinction and in favor of your particular theory. Another difficulty lies in why the prohibition on making idols (Exod 20:4) would have been seen an insufficient basis for either a renewed or new covenant in light of the golden calf incident... by focusing on the designation 'ethical code' (which applies only to half the 'traditional' decalogue), you seem to overlook its initial commands that are entirely consistent with the editor's proposed focus.
Thanks for the chuckle... proposing that the bulk of Exodus 34 is itself part of large-scale supplement spanning three chapters, however, is not "to throw [it] out the window" --- these radical reactions do not reflect anything I've said about the texts under discussion, which is to respect them as pieces of an evolving tradition about the Sinai covenant.
Feel free to insert "I think" before claims I am making about these texts... it is implied and I do not include it because it would become extremely redundant.
No, I don't.
My response is the same as to my interlocutor over on the Judaism forum who proposed two books of the covenant... see here
, very bottom video link. No, there were not two arks... Exodus knows of only one ark (the gold-plated one) and Deuteronomy knows of only one ark (the unadorned one), neither tradition acknowledges the existence of a second ark --- the only reason to suggest there might have been two is to resolve the fact these two traditions contradict each other about when it was made, how it was made and by who.
To expand on the answer given here
to the slightly different question you asked about dating... I date the preamble material of Deuteronomy (chs 1-11) to the reign of Josiah (ie. late 7th century BCE) and similarly the epilogue material (chs 27-34) --- there is some earlier material worked into the latter (ie. the poem in ch 33) and some exilic or post-exilic expansions in both (ie. references assuming the exile in chs 4, 28 and 30). This leaves the law code itself (chs 12-26), which is earlier and bears traces of having come from the northern kingdom --- its core thus had to have been written sometime before about 722 BCE when Israel fell to the Assyrians. In other words, the material in Deuteronomy stretches over a period at least
150 years and thus represents a school of thought rather than a group writing only within a very narrow window of time. That said, I think the idea of a transcendent deity and ideological battles with material collected in Exodus best reflect the burst of activity on the literary corpus during the Josianic period and I thus have no objections to referring to these authors as the Deuteronomists proper (as I often do, including in the post linked above) in the sense of fashioning the book in the form we more or less now know it as.