The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch
“Five Scrolls”
Summary of ch. 3
Encountering the Old Testament
The Pentateuch
• First 5 books of OT
• Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
• Also called
– Torah – law, instruction
– Book of the Law
– Books of Moses
• The story of how Israel’s ancestors
became the people chosen by God
– Chosen to represent God to the world
– Chosen to be a blessing to the world
• Genesis 1-11
– Story of beginnings
• Creation – life
• Struggles of life
– Good vs Evil
– Effects of sin, evil
– Estrangement between people, people & God
• Gen 12-50
– Story of Abraham and his family and their
journey of faith
– Covenant between Abraham and God
• Exodus
– Story of Moses and his leadership of Israel
out of Egypt
– Covenant between Israel and God
• Leviticus
– Guidance from sons of Levi - priests
– Instructions for moral and ritual purity
– God’s people should be holy because he is
• Numbers
– Story of Israel’s travels after leaving Egypt
– Struggles of faithfulness to the covenant
• Deuteronomy – “second law”
– Moses prepares Israel for the promised land
Themes of the Pentateuch
• Sovereignty of god
– Creator, protection of Abraham, defeats
Egyptian gods
• God in History
– God is involved in history, not simply above or
beyond it
• Struggle with evil, sin
• Salvation
– Deliverance from control of evil
• Holiness
– Character of God
– Expects his people to share holiness
– People become like what they revere, worship
Who wrote the Pentateuch?
• Traditional theory
– Moses wrote it
• Modern theory
– Several wrote various parts over a long period
of time
– Different themes, different name of God,
different perspectives reflect different authors
• Main documents
– J – “Jehovah” – Yahweh
– E – “Elohim”
– D – mainly Deuteronomy
– P – mainly priestly material
– Eventually all these documents were put
together to form the Pentateuch
• Many debates over these ideas
• Much of the material was transmitted
orally for generations
• Much of the material was shaped at the
time of Moses
• Several later shaped the traditions handed
down from Moses
• Redaction criticism
– Tries to detect how different sources are
edited together
• Form criticism
– Analyzes different literary types, styles (genre)
- (narrative, poetry, wisdom, etc)
• Sitz im leben – “situation in life”
– The settings in which the different literary
types were used
• Tradition criticism
– Tries to trace the oral traditions