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.
“Thus, while seed as the subject of a plural verb implies a collective seed, seed as the subject of a singular verb is inconclusive.7 Likewise, seed with a singular adjective or participle is inconclusive because seed with plural referent actually takes singular adjectives and participles (Ps 37:25; 112:2; Job 5:25; 21:8).” (Page 72)
“Thus, for Paul the Pentateuch teaches the new covenant of the Messiah, whereas the Sinai/Deuteronomic law, if taken in isolation from the holistic torah/instruction of Moses (i.e., the Pentateuch), can lead to a mistaken reliance on ‘works of the law’ (Rom 3:20; Gal 3:10).” (Page 29)
“Indeed, there is nothing inherently illogical about predicting the coming of an individual prophet like Moses while also warning against those false prophets who might claim the same authority.” (Page 237)
“Indeed, other passages imply that the Messiah will be a Moses-like figure who will lead a ‘second exodus’ of the Lord’s people back to the land (Deut 18:15–19; 34:10–12; Ezek 37:22–24; Hos 1:11).” (Page 70)
“Here as elsewhere, authorial intent refers to that of the human author, which is viewed as being identical to the divine intent of Scripture (2 Pet 1:20–21). This position, which will be defended in detail below, distinguishes the present approach from the more popular typological approach to seeing Christ in the Old Testament.18 While there is some overlap in method and results, typology instead emphasizes patterns and correspondences between people, events, and institutions (e.g., elements of the sacrificial system) in salvation history as recorded in the Bible, especially between such ‘things’ in the Old Testament and Christ.” (Pages 12–13)
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
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
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
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