For more than 20 years, Victor Hamilton’s handbook has been introducing students to the Pentateuch. In this substantially revised second edition, Hamilton moves chapter by chapter, rather than verse by verse, through the Pentateuch. He examines the content, structure, and theology and provides useful commentary on overarching themes and connections between Old Testament texts. For those who wish to do additional research, each chapter is appended with a bibliography of recent, relevant scholarship.
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“Most of the information in 2:4–25 is an amplification of 1:26–29. Chapter 1 is concerned with the world, while ch. 2 is concerned with a garden; one is cosmic, the other localized. God’s relationship to the world is in his capacity as Elohim, while his relationship to a couple in a garden is in his capacity as Yahweh Elohim; the first suggests his majesty and transcendence, the second his intimacy and involvement with his creation. Exactly why we must not posit a unity in Genesis 1–2 escapes me.” (Page 23)
“The purpose of covenant is to create a new relationship. The purpose of law is to regulate or perpetuate an existing relationship by orderly means.” (Page 189)
“What is interesting is that in all but one of these eighteen occurrences (the exception is 1 Chron. 21:1) śāṭan has the definite article attached, ‘the satan.’ This indicates that ‘the satan’ is a title, not a personal name. Satan is not who he is, but what he is. He does not merit a name, and in antiquity, not to have a name was to be reduced to virtual nonexistence.” (Page 40)
“Several times, especially in prophetic literature, we are informed that God’s reason for rejecting a sacrifice or an offering was that religious ritual had become a substitute for obedience and holy living.” (Pages 58–59)
“Such a separate narration of woman’s creation is without parallel in ancient Near Eastern literature.” (Page 28)
It is a pleasure to recommend this work as an excellent introduction to the first five books of the Bible. Its sensitivity to the literary structures and emphases in the texts as well as its full awareness of classic and contemporary exegetical issues and scholarship provides an essential tool for introducing students and all interested readers to the fascinating world of the Pentateuch. Scholars in the field will also benefit from Hamilton’s presentation of new and original ideas and up-to-date bibliographies.
—Richard S. Hess, professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary
Hamilton achieves with apparent ease what so many only attempt. He unites historical study with literary insight; he integrates diachronic critical concerns with synchronic, structurally sensitive insights; and he deftly places his own fresh reading of the texts in conversation with an astonishing range of scholarly literature that represents the full spectrum of research on the Pentateuch. All this is done within a sound theological framework that allows the text to be heard naturally as a rule of faith for the church.
—Lawson Stone, professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary