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An Introduction to the Pentateuch:


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Title: An Introduction to the Pentateuch:

An Introduction to the Pentateuch
  • ATPS-BOT620

Hebrew Canon
  • hrwt
  • yaybn
  • ybwtkw

Torah in General
  • "An essential aspect of the traditional Jewish
    understanding of Scripture is the priority of the
    Pentateuch. Levinson
  • "The faithful Jew studies the Torah continually,
    explores its treasures, and absorbs it beauty,
    but even a prophet may not change the ancient and
    eternal revelation. Levinson
  • "In both the rabbinic and the apostolic cases,
    the doctrine of the priority of the Pentateuch
    serves to thwart consciousness of change and thus
    to uphold the insistence of the Pentateuch itself
    upon the finality of Mosaic revelation (Deut 4.2

Torah in General
  • ". . . for both Christians and Jews, Scripture
    begins with the Torah. For Judaism we could
    remove the article and say that "Scripture begins
    and ends with Torah," inasmuch as the rest of the
    Hebrew Bible especially the prophetic books,
    but also to some extent the "writings" can be
    understood as interpretive extensions of the
    Torah, rather than as portions of equal weight.

  • . . . already in the post-exilic period, in the
    later books of the OT, there are references to
    "the Book of Moses" (Ezra 6.18 Neh 13.1 2 Chr
    25.4), but it is not clear whether the entire
    Pentateuch is intended or only the legal
    sections. Childs
  • Chumash Hebrew word for five
  • Subsequent Jewish tradition coined the technical
    term "the five-fifths of the law" (yvmwx hvmx
    hrwt) to describe the division of the Pentateuch
    into five parts. Childs
  • The term pentateuchus is the Latin rendering of
    the Greek hv Penta,teucoj, meaning the fivefold

Content of the Pentateuch
  • 1. "The OT Pentateuch, or Torah, combines
    narratives and legal materials with occasional
    poetic sections. The narrative material tells the
    story of human history from Adam to Abraham, then
    recounts the fate of Abraham and his descendants
    (primarily the ancestors of Israel) until the
    period just before the conquest of the territory
    west of the Jordan River. The legal material
    primarily appears as two large blocks the

Content of the Pentateuch
  • revelations given while the people are encamped
    at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19-40 Lev Num 1.1-10.10) and
    Moses' proclamation of the laws in Moab just
    before the conquest (Num 22-36 and Deut). At
    other places, laws, commands, and legal
    ordinances appear (see Gen 1.28-29 9.1-7
    17.9-15 and throughout the journeys recorded in
    Num 10.10-21.35)." Hayes, An Introduction to OT
    Study, 157-8

Content of the Pentateuch
  • 2. "The Pentateuch narrates God's dealings with
    the world especially with the family of Abraham
    from creation to the death of Moses." D. A.
    Hubbard, "Pentateuch," The New Bible Dictionary,
    ed. J. D. Douglas, 958

Content of the Pentateuch
  • 3. The Pentateuch... has six major parts
    Friedman, "Pentateuch," ABD
  • (1) The primeval history Gen 1-11
  • (2) The patriarchs Gen 12-50
  • (3) The liberation from Egypt Exod1.1-15.21
    (interim 15.22-16.36)
  • (4) The stay at Sinai/Horeb Exod 17-40 Lev
  • (5) The journey Num
  • (6) Moses' farewell Deut

The Canonical Form Function
  • The Five as Separate
  • The Five as One

Authorship Issues
  • 1. The Pentateuch/Torah as an anonymous work
  • 2. Mosaic Authorship
  • 2.1 Judaism Christianity accepted a Mosaic
    authorship without question for centuries
    Ben-Sira, Philo, Josephus, the Mishnah, Talmud,
  • 2.2 OT the book of the law of Moses (Neh 8.1)
    the book of Moses (Neh 13.1 2 Chr 25.4, 35.12)
    the law of Moses the servant of God (Dan 9.11
    cf. Mal 4.4) the book of the law of Moses (Josh
    8.31, 23.6 2 Kgs 14.6), etc.
  • 2.3 NT the book of Moses (Mk 12.26 the law of
    Moses (Lk 2.22 Jn 7.23), etc.

Authorship Issues
  • 3. Mosaic and Single Authorship Challenged
  • 3.1 Anachronisms
  • 3.2 Multiple accounts of the same event
  • 3.3 Disagreements between narratives
  • 3.4 Differences in the Laws
  • 3.5 Gods name Yahweh
  • 3.6 Differences in style and conception of God

Authorship Issues
  • 4. The Point of Moses Authorship Childs
  • 4.1 Mosaic authorship was thought crucial in
    supporting the historicity of Bible . . . .
  • 4.2 . . . Moses writing activity is closely
    tied to his mediatorial role in receiving the
    divine law at Sinai.
  • 4.3 Deuteronomy 31
  • 4.4 . . .laws attributed to Moses were deemed
    authoritative, and conversely authoritative laws
    were attributed to Moses.
  • 4.5 The claim of Mosaic authorship therefore
    functioned theologically within the community to
    establish the continuity of the faith of
    successive generations with that which had once
    been delivered to Moses at Sinai.

  • 1. Guidance out of Egypt
  • 2. Guidance into the Arable Land
  • 3. Promise to the Patriarchs
  • 4. Guidance in the Wilderness
  • 5. Revelation at Sinai

  • 1. The Egyptian Plagues and the Celebration of
    the Passover
  • 2. Episodes Connected with the Occupation
  • 3. Baal Peor and Balaam
  • 4. Jacob at Shechem
  • 5. Jacob in East Jordan
  • 6. Isaac and Abraham

  • 7. Thirst, Hunger, and Enemies in the Wilderness
  • 8. The Murmuring of the People
  • 9. Caleb in Hebron
  • 10. The Mountain of God and the Midianites
  • 11. Covenant and Apostasy at Sinai

  • "The theme of the Pentateuch is the partial
    fulfillment - which implies also the partial
    non-fulfillment - of the promise to or blessing
    of the patriarchs. The promise or blessing is
    both the divine initiative in a word where human
    initiatives always lead to disaster, and a
    re-affirmation of the primal divine intentions
    for man. The promise has three elements
    posterity, divine-human relationship, and land.

  • posterity - element of the promise is dominant
    in Genesis 12-50, the relationship-element in
    Exodus and Leviticus, and the land-element in
    Numbers and Deuteronomy." Clines, The Theme of
    the Pentateuch, 29

  • The promise of descendants
  • Gen 12.2, 7 13.15 15.4f, 13, 16, 18 16.10
    17.2, 4-7, 16, 19f 21.12f, 18, 16ff 26.3f, 24
    28.13f 35.11 46.3.
  • The promise of relationship
  • Gen 12.2f 17.1-11, 16, 17ff 26.2f, 24 28.13,
    15 35.9f 46.3 48.21.

  • The promise of relationship
  • Gen 12.2f 17.1-11, 16, 17ff 26.2f, 24 28.13,
    15 35.9f 46.3 48.21.
  • Exod 3.6, 12, 15f 4.5, 23 5.1 6.6ff 7.16
    8.1MT 7.26 26 MT 8.16 9.1, 13 10.3.
  • Lev 26.12.

  • The promise of land
  • Gen 12.1, 7 13.14f, 17 15.7, 13, 16, 18 17.8
    22.17 26.2ff 28.13.15 35.12 46.3f.
  • Exod 3.8, 17 6.6ff 23.23-33 34.24.

  • Allusions to the promise
  • Gen 18.19f 21.1 24.7, 60 26.3 283f, 13ff
    31.5, 42 32.9, 12 MT 32.10, 13 35.3, 12
    47.27 48.3f, 15f, 21 50.24.
  • Exod 1.7, 9f, 12, 20 2.24 6.4f, 8 13.5, 11
    32.10, 13 33.1, 3.
  • Lev 14.13 18.3 19.23, 33 20.22, 24 23.10, 22
    25.2 26.4f, 44f.

  • Allusions continued
  • Num 10.29 13.1 14.7f, 12, 16, 22ff, 30f, 40,
    42f 15.2, 18, 40 16.12ff, 41, 41 17.6 17.27f
    MT 17.12f 18.20 20.4, 12, 24 21.5, 24, 31,
    35 22.12 23.8, 10, 20f 24.9 25.18 26.53
    32.5, 32f 33.5f, 54 34.2, 13, 17.

  • Allusions continued
  • Deut 1.8, 10f, 20f, 25, 35f, 39 2.7, 12, 24, 29,
    31 4.20, 31, 37 5.3, 31 MT 5.28 6.3, 10,
    18f, 23 7.8, 12f 8.1, 18 9.5, 26-29 10.11,
    15, 22 11.9, 21 13.17 15.4, 6 19.8 26.3, 5,
    15, 18f 27.3, 9 28.9ff 29.10-13 MT 29.9-12
    30.16, 20 31.7, 20f, 23 34.4.

CLINES Promises in Genesis
  • 1. "In thematic terms, Genesis 12-50 is primarily
    concerned with the fulfillment (or, perhaps,
    non-fulfillment) of the posterity - element in
    the divine promises to the patriarchs. The theme
    appears at first in the shape of questions
    first, will there be even one son, let alone a
    posterity? and secondly, once sons is born, will
    he survive to produce a posterity." Clines, The
    Theme of the Pentateuch, 45

CLINES Promises in Genesis
  • 2. " is only within Exodus that the
    multiplication of the patriarchal family attains
    significant dimensions (Ex 1.7, 9, 12, 20).
    Genesis ends with the patriarchal family
    consisting essentially of Jacob and his twelve
    sons. The promise has begun to take effect, but
    is still largely unrealized." Clines, The Theme
    of the Pentateuch, 46

CLINES Promises in Genesis
  • 3. "The thematic elements of the land and of the
    divine relationship also appear in Genesis, but
    in a subsidiary role." Clines, The Theme of the
    Pentateuch, 46
  • 4. "As for the promise of the divine
    relationship, its formulation in Genesis remains
    somewhat cryptic and its outworking variable and
    provisional." Clines, The Theme of the
    Pentateuch, 46

CLINES Promises in Genesis
  • 5. "In brief, within Genesis it is by no means
    established in set terms what the nature of the
    divine-human relationship is to be. The promise
    has begun to take effect, but the shape it will
    adopt is as yet uncertain." Clines, The Theme of
    the Pentateuch, 47

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • 1. "It is in these books that the element in the
    promise of God's relationship with the
    descendants of Abraham is most clearly brought to
    expression. At the two focal points of these
    books, the exodus event and the Sinai revelation,
    it becomes plain what the promise meant by its
    word, "I will bless you," "I will make my
    covenant between me and you," "I will be you
    God." Thus in the book Exodus the narrative of
    the exodus

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • from Egypt is initiated by acts that spring from
    the divine-human relationship...." Clines, The
    Theme of the Pentateuch, 47

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • 2. "As for the book of Leviticus, its function,
    within the scheme of the promise and its
    fulfillments, is to spell out in detail the means
    by regulation of ritual worship is its almost
    exclusive interest its presuppositions are that
    men will wish to offer gifts to God, will sin
    against God, will want to know the will of God
    for everyday life. That is to say, Leviticus
    depicts a community exploring its

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • relationship with God." Clines, The Theme of
    the Pentateuch, 50

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • 3. "Both Exodus and Leviticus therefore lead into
    a future in which Israel has yet to discover what
    this promise of a relationship, "I will be your
    God and you shall be my people," will mean."
    Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 51

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • 4. ". . . it is striking that the promise of
    progeny is subordinated to the promise of the
    relationship, the primary theme of these two
    books Yahweh will "remember the covenant with
    their forefathers, whom I brought forth out of
    the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations,
    that I might be their God" (26.45). And certainly
    Israel has not yet become a "great nation" the
    promise of progeny awaits a fuller realization."
    Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 52

CLINES Promises in Exod Lev
  • 5. "The promise of the land, though more
    prominent, nevertheless appears only in scattered
    allusions throughout Exodus and Leviticus,
    compared with the dominant role it will assume in
    Numbers and Deuteronomy." Clines, The Theme of
    the Pentateuch, 52

CLINES Promises in Num Deut
  • 1. "The promise of the land, though more
    prominent, nevertheless appears only in scattered
    allusions throughout Exodus and Leviticus,
    compared with the dominant role it will assume in
    Numbers and Deuteronomy." Clines, The Theme of
    the Pentateuch, 53

CLINES Promises in Num Deut
  • 2. "In Numbers the idea of the movement toward
    the land appears at the very beginning of the
    book in the census of the people . . . . Just as
    we have seen in both Genesis and Exodus, no
    sooner does the promise begin to come into effect
    than it is beset by questions and negations."
    Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 53-55

CLINES Promises in Num Deut
  • 3. "As far as Deuteronomy is concerned, it goes
    without saying that everything focuses upon the
    land. Among its most characteristic phrases are
    "the land you are to possess" which occurs (with
    variations) 22 time, and "the land (or, ground,
    gates, cites, etc.) which Yahweh your (or, our,
    etc.) God gives you (or, us)", which occurs 34
    times." Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 58

CLINES Promises in Num Deut
  • 4. "Deuteronomy, therefore, is oriented to the
    land that yet remains to be entered, and regards
    the entry into the land as essentially a
    fulfillment of the patriarchal promises. In no
    part of the Pentateuch is our thesis better
    sustained that its theme is the partial and yet
    awaited fulfillment of the patriarchal promise."
    Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 58

Structural Issues
  • 1. Division
  • 1.1 Chapters by Stephen Langton (1150-1228) in
    the Vulgate
  • 1.2 Verses are found as early as the Talmudic
    period, but not numbered.
  • 1.3 Verse numbering was by Robert Estienne (1550
    Greek N.T. 3 years later the whole French bible)
  • 1.4 The Masoretic Bible was divided into
    liturgical readings.

Structural Issues
  • 2. Book Division
  • 2.1 Whatever the reason for the division, we can
    hardly assume that it was done in a purely
    mechanical way according to length. Exodus and
    Numbers, the second and fourth of the five, are
    almost exactly equal in length (16,713 and 16,413
    words respectively) while Leviticus, the middle
    book, is by far the shortest (11,950 words), not
    much more than half the length of Genesis.
  • 2.2 The fivefold arrangement highlights
    Leviticus as the central panel of the pentad,
    containing as it does the prescriptions
    identifying the reconstituted Israel of the
    Second Commonwealth as a holy community distinct
    from the nations of the world. If this is so, the
    structure of the foundational narrative, now
    severed from the history of events subsequent to
    the death of Moses, encodes an essential clue to
    its meaning." Blenkinsopp

  • Ambiguities "The Pentateuchal narrative is
    filled with ambiguities, seemingly intended,
    which have been fodder for a rich variety of
    interpretation over centuries.... such literary
    ambiguities, which do not have appearance of
    inexpert composition but, quite the contrary,
    beckon for decipherment and interpretation."
    Friedman, "Torah (Pentateuch)," ABD, CD-Rom

  • Irony "The narrative is characterized by
    frequent occurrences of irony, particularly in
    the Jacob and Joseph sequences." Friedman,
    "Torah (Pentateuch)," ABD, CD-Rom Edition

  • Character Development "There appear to be two
    classes of character development in the Torah.
    Most persons, both major and minor figures in the
    work, are essentially constant personalities.
    Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Aaron, and the
    Pharaoh do not grow and change dramatically from
    their first appearances in the narrative to their
    last. However, three figures in the Torah are
    pictured as changing through the course of events
    of their lives Jacob, Joseph, and Moses."
    Friedman, "Torah (Pentateuch)," ABD, CD-Rom

  • Paronomasia "Paronomasia is common, especially
    in J and E, though occasionally in other sources
    as well." Friedman, "Torah (Pentateuch)," ABD,
    CD-Rom Edition

  • Unity and a collection of small units "Perhaps
    most striking among the literary qualities of the
    Torah is the extent to which it is both a unit
    and a collection of small units. The units or
    episodes are united (a) by common themes
    (especially covenant), (b) by falling into a
    chronological flow of generations through
    history, and (c) by editorial connecting
    mechanisms (such as the book of generations, and
    the list of

  • stations of the journey from Sinai to the
    promised land). The result is that the Torah can
    be read as individual stories or as a continuous,
    meaningful narrative with pervasive themes."
    Friedman, "Torah (Pentateuch)," ABD, CD-Rom

Narrative Integrity Anomalies
  • 1. Narrative Tempo
  • 2. Continuing Narrative
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