The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch, By Kevin S. Chen alt

The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch

by Kevin S. Chen

The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Published: December 03, 2019
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5797
  • ISBN: 9780830857975

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Did Moses write about Jesus? Jesus himself made this bold claim (recorded in John 5:46). Yet while most readers of the Bible today recognize a few Messianic prophecies in the Pentateuch, they don't often see them as part of its central message. In The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch, Kevin Chen challenges the common view of the Pentateuch as focused primarily on the Mosaic Law, arguing instead that it sets forth a coherent, sweeping vision of the Messiah as the center of its theological message.

Each Messianic prophecy in the Pentateuch contributes to the fuller vision of the Messiah that emerges when it is appropriately related to the others and to the Pentateuch as a whole. Giving priority to exegesis of the author's intent, Chen's approach focuses on the meaning of the Old Testament on its own terms more than typological arguments do. Building on the work of John Sailhamer, he sheds new light on the topic of the Messiah using compositional exegesis of the Pentateuch as a unified literary work.

From the prophecy about the "seed of the woman" in Genesis 3 to Moses' climactic blessing in Deuteronomy 33, careful examination of key passages reveals the intrinsic Messianic glory that shines through the Pentateuch and its compositional strategy. For Bible scholars, pastors, and thoughtful lay readers, The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch provides a fascinating study and an exegetical basis for a Christ-centered biblical theology.

"Years ago I set out to understand the meaning of the Pentateuch as a follower of Jesus. After reading several commentaries on each of the books of the Pentateuch, I was disappointed to find precious little comment by scholars on the Messianic hope, suggesting to me that the Messiah had little if any place in the scholarly discussion of the grammatical-historical interpretation of the book. Dr. Chen's book represents a persuasive scholarly defense of the Messianism as part and parcel of the literal meaning of the Pentateuch. I highly commend this book for laymen and scholars alike."

Seth D. Postell, academic dean, Israel College of the Bible, Netanya, Israel

"In this carefully researched work, Kevin Chen insightfully adapts and expands the methodology of John Sailhamer to illuminate the meaning of the Messianic vision of the Pentateuch. This widely engaging book contends that the network of Messianic prophecies found in the writings of Moses can be understood as a complex array or interrelated lenses designed and intended to project a coherent, sweeping vision of the Messiah at the center of their theological message. While wrestling with an array of complex hermeneutical issues associated with his approach, Chen thoughtfully contends that these intertextual relationships point to the presence of an authorially intended, unified Messianic theology in the Pentateuch. Offering perspective on matters of prophecy, typology, progressive revelation, and repetition, this volume offers readers much to consider with the hope of enabling biblical interpreters to read, understand, teach, and proclaim the Word of God in a more coherent and faithful manner."

David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"This wonderful book substantiates the claim that Moses wrote of Christ. It presents an abundance of textual and intertextual evidence from key passages, including the major poetic sections of Genesis 49, Exodus 15, Numbers 23–24, and Deuteronomy 32–33. Kevin Chen demonstrates that the Pentateuch has been strategically composed to reflect and refract a radiant Messianic light into the rest of the Old Testament and the New Testament. I hope and pray this book is read widely and carefully."

Joshua G. Mathews, professor, Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

"Evangelicals and other Christians often champion a 'Christ-centered' approach to the Old Testament, but there is no consensus on what this actually means. Building on the groundbreaking work of the late John Sailhamer, Kevin Chen offers a vision of the Pentateuch that grounds its messianic (Christ-centered) identity in the authorial intent of Moses and any subsequent (inspired) editors rather than in later interpretations and reinterpretations by New Testament authors or later Christian theologians. The result is a messianic vision of the Pentateuch that is text-driven and spiritually compelling, and makes a needed contribution to the discussion about how the Old Testament ought to be interpreted. Even scholars who opt for a different approach will benefit from deep, open-minded engagement with the methodological questions Chen raises in this helpful book."

Nathan A. Finn, provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University

"Stepping on the shoulders of his mentor John Sailhamer, Kevin Chen has charted his own course in showing the importance of the Messiah to the Pentateuch. Particularly clear is his reinforcement and solidification of Sailhamer's distinction between the Pentateuch and Sinai/Deuteronomic Law. The Pentateuch's message is Gospel, as it looks to the future salvation of the Messiah. While scholars will not always agree with Chen's conclusions, his writing is clear, insightful, stimulating, and well researched. Using apt illustrations, Chen challenges us to take a new look at old texts, and the results speak for themselves."

Stephen G. Dempster, professor of religious studies, Crandall University

"Kevin Chen has given us here a bold, fresh, groundbreaking study on how to understand the Pentateuch in the light of Jesus, Israel's promised Messiah. A nail in the coffin of Marcion's ghost! An important book worthy of serious engagement."

Timothy George, research professor at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture


1. The Seed of the Woman
2. The Seed of Abraham in the Patriarchal Narratives
3. The Lion of Judah
4. Passover and the Song of the Sea
5. Shadows at Sinai
6. The Bronze Snake and Balaam’s Oracles
7. The Prophet Like Moses
8. The Blessing of Judah
9. The Repeated Breaking of the Sinai/Deuteronomic Law
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Kevin S. Chen

Kevin S. Chen is professor of Old Testament Studies at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, CA. He previously taught at Christian Witness Theological Seminary in San Jose, CA, and Union University in Jackson, TN. He is the author of The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch and is a contributor to the Worldview Study Bible.