Pentateuch - St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church

Adult Faith Formation
St. Mark the Evangelist
Introduction to
Sacred Scripture
The Pentateuch
The Pentateuch consists of the
first five books of the OT:
The term "Pentateuch" comes from the
Greek term hê pentateuchos biblos
meaning “the book of the five scrolls”
The Jews called it "Torah" (instruction or
teaching) which is often rendered in
English by "Law"
Although each book is a unit, together they
form a larger unity. These five books form
a backbone for the rest of the OT and NT
The five books were named by the
Jews of Palestine according to the
opening Hebrew words:
Bereshith “In the Beginning“
Shemoth "And these are the names“
Vayikra "And he called"
Bemidbar "And he spoke"
Debarim "These are the words"
The names now used in the English translations
are from the Greek Septuagint:
I. Genesis: the beginnings of the world and of the
Hebrew people
II. Exodus: departure from Egypt under Moses
III. Leviticus: legal rulings concerning sacrifice,
purification, and so forth of concern to the
priests, who came from the tribe of Levi
IV. Numbers (Arithmoi): the numbering or taking
census of Israelites in the desert
V. Deuteronomy: meaning "second law,"
because many laws found in the previous books
are repeated here
Literary Type: Mainly prose, with some
poetry. About half is compiled from sagas
and epics, both cultural and borrowed.
Genesis is all narrative
Exodus is half narrative, half law
Leviticus is primarily law
Numbers half law and half narrative
Deuteronomy is primarily law
Stages of Pentateuch
1. The broad outline events of the Exodus and
the figure of Moses
2. Collections of stories, laws, speeches and
meditations on historical events, and liturgical
3. Editing and additions by scribes, prophets
and wise men into the primary strands.
4. Final drawing together of the diverse strands
into the five separate but connected books.
Name of God
El … generic name for deity in Semitic
Elohim … grammatically, plural for of “El”
Shaddai, El Shadai … the Almighty
Adonai … “my lord” … spoken where YHWH
YHWH, Yahweh … the Tetragammaton …
from “ehyeh ‘aser ‘ehyeh” … I am that am …
I am he who is Being or source of being.
Names of God
YHWH + Adonai vowels = YaHoWaiH
… a created name for God from two
Hebrew forms of God’s name.
Four Source Theory
ELOHIST … Elohim
JAHWIST … Yahweh
Four Source Theory
The Yahwistic Tradition: [J] Most
likely comes from the time of Solomon,
about 950 BCE. It tends to focus on
the Davidic Monarchy as central and
unifying to the faith. Uses the name
YHWH as the name for God and calls
Sinai the mountain of the law, dwellers
in the promised land are called
Four Source Theory
The Elohistic Tradition: [E] Probably
developed around 700 BCE in the Northern
Kingdom. It looks back to Moses as a
central figure, and leaves its mark on the
prophecies of Elijah, Elisha and Hosea. The
J and E traditions joined around 700 BCE
after the Assyrian conquest of the Northern
Kingdom. God is called Elohim, the
mountain is Horeb, and the dwellers are
Four Source Theory
The Deuteronmistic Tradition: [D]
Found primarily in the Book of
Deuteronomy and probably began in
the Northern Kingdom, but was
completed in the Southern Kingdom
after 700 BCE. It stresses the Mosaic
Convent and Jerusalem as the center
of true worship.
Four Source Theory
The Priestly Tradition: [P] Developed during
the Babylonian Exile from 587-538 BCE and
continued after the restoration. It is focused on
the concerns of priests serving the Jerusalem
temple, technical record keeping and legal
traditions related to the Temple; material such
as detailed rules about festivals, the counting
of days, the ordering of events, genealogies
and statistics, as well as reflective theological
material related to the keeping of religious law.
Four Source Theory
The Priestly Tradition: Reflects the
traditions of the Southern Kingdom. Probably
responsible for much of the final form of the
Old Testament … the gathering and editing
of the other sources. It stresses obedience
to the Law and the permanence of God’s
blessings no matter how desperate things
get. It demands personal commitment to
Chapters 1 – 11: The primitive history of the
world before Israel’s own remembered
history. Created from legends, sagas,
mythology and etiology. Creation, Adam &
Eve, sin & punishment, Noah & the flood.
Chapters 12-50: The promises and
blessings of the tribal ancestors, the
patriarchs … Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
and the beginning of what would become
the Egyptian Captivity with Joseph.
We presume a true historical core to this
event & experience.
Chapters 1-18: The rescue and escape from
Egyptian Captivity.
Chapter 19 and continuing into Numbers:
The giving of the Covenant and Laws.
The story explains the worship of a
single God and the God-Nation
God cares about His people & sides with
justice & freedom.
Unique ideas in Exodus:
Covenant … berith, a binding relationship
between God and a people
An Exclusive & jealous God
A God without images
A God without parents or wife
The Sabbath
Written primarily by the Priestly writers,
legislative & liturgical laws. Stresses
ritual purity and external holiness as
a sign of their intimate union with
The most important theme: “You shall
be holy, because I, the Lord, am
Chapters 1-7: Laws of sacrifice
Chapters 8-10: Priestly rules
Chapters 11-15: Legal purity
Chapter 16: Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur
Chapters 17-27: Holiness code.
Mix of material from the Yahwist,
Elohist and Priestly sources, it
deals with the 38 year journey from
Sinai to border of the Promised
Land. Combines legendary history
with laws.
The Second Law: some repetition,
completion and explanation of the Law
given at Sinai. It stands to recall the
people to the Mosaic Covenant in the 7th
Century. It teaches that the people/we
should love God because he loved
them/us first, but He is also a jealous and
punishing God, to be approached with
awe and reverence.
Next time ….
The Histories:
Joshua, Judges
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings (1 & 2 Chronicles)
1 & 2 Maccabees
The Novels: Ruth, Tobit, Judith & Esther