The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation, By John H. Sailhamer

The Meaning of the Pentateuch

Revelation, Composition and Interpretation

by John H. Sailhamer

The Meaning of the Pentateuch
  • Length: 640 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 15, 2009
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3867
  • ISBN: 9780830838677

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Biblical Foundations Book Award

The Pentateuch is the foundation for understanding the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole. Yet through the centuries it has been probed and dissected, weighed and examined, its text peeled back for its underlying history, its discourse analyzed and its words weighed. Could there be any stone in Sinai yet unturned?

Surprisingly, there is. From a career of study, John Sailhamer sums up his perspective on the Pentateuch by first settling the hermeneutical question of where we should set our attention. Rather than focus on the history behind the text, Sailhamer is convinced that it is the text itself that should be our primary focus. Along the way he demonstrates that this was in fact the focus of many interpreters in the precritical era.

Persuaded of the singular vision of the Pentateuch, Sailhamer searches out clues left by the author and the later editor of the Pentateuch that will disclose the meaning of this great work. By paying particular attention to the poetic seams in the text, he rediscovers a message that surprisingly brings us to the threshold of the New Testament gospel.

"For years John Sailhamer has been pressing toward a comprehensive work on the Pentateuch, preparing the way with such works as his The Pentateuch as Narrative and a host of periodical publications on the subject. At last the magnum opus has appeared under the title The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation. In typical Sailhamer fashion, he has left no stones unturned in any language necessary to get to primary and secondary sources, while at the same time offering fresh insights into the biblical texts and compelling invitations to the reader to view them in more holistic and integrative ways. Careful reading of the book will inevitably call for a reexamination of the issue of the Pentateuch's antiquity and its deliberate compositional strategy, a reassessment that will help to rehabilitate Torah as not the end product of Judaism but as the foundation of Israelite faith and practice."

Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Sailhamer illustrates the kind of fresh and creative thinking on the OT that is possible for an evangelical scholar."

Joe M. Sprinkle, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2010

"Sailhamer has made a valuable contribution to both Pentateuchal studies and the larger field of biblical theological studies."

Roger D. Cotton, Enrichment, Winter 2011

"An interesting evangelical position in language accessible to all."

James Chukwuma Okoye, The Bible in Review



Part One: Approaching the Text as Revelation
1 Understanding the Nature and Goal of Old Testament Theology
2 Finding the Author's Verbal Meaning
3 What Is the "Historical Meaning" of Biblical Texts?
4 Finding the Big Idea in the Final Composition of the Text

Part Two: Rediscovering the Composition of the Pentateuch Within the Tanak
5 Textual Strategies Within the Tanak
6 The Composition of the Pentateuch
7 Exploring the Composition of Legal Material in the Pentateuch

Part Three: Interpreting the Theology of the Pentateuch
8 The Nature of Covenant and Blessing in the Pentateuch
9 Is There a "Biblical Jesus" of the Pentateuch?
10 The Purpose of Mosaic Law in the Pentateuch
11 The Theme of Salvation in the Pentateuch

Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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John H. Sailhamer

John H. Sailhamer (1946-2017) was professor of Old Testament at Gateway Seminary (formerly Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) in Brea, California. He is the author of several books, including Introduction to Old Testament Theology and The Meaning of the Pentateuch.