Exploring the Old Testament, Vol. 1: The Pentateuch introduces students to the first five books of the Old Testament. In a challenging and engaging way it enables students to understand the kinds of literature they are dealing with, the structure and purpose of these books, the major themes and theologies of each book, and issues for today arising from each area of study.
“Thus as Genesis retells familiar oriental stories about the origins of the world, it dramatically transforms them theologically. Polytheism is replaced by monotheism, divine weakness by almighty power. Human beings are no longer seen as a sideline but central to the divine purpose. God looks after man by supplying him with food, not the other way round. Finally, the God of Genesis is very concerned about human sin: it was this that prompted him to send the flood, not population growth.” (Page 16)
“To capture the uniqueness of the Pentateuch, it would probably therefore be best to define it as torah ‘instruction’ in the form of a biography of Moses.” (Page 4)
“Genesis provides the background to the law-giving, Exodus to Numbers is largely taken up with the proclamation of the law, while Deuteronomy offers a most authoritative commentary on the law by Israel’s greatest prophet Moses.” (Page 2)
“The theme of the Pentateuch is the fulfilment of the promises to the patriarchs, which are a reaffirmation of God’s original intentions for the human race, through God’s mercy and the collaboration of Moses. To some degree these promises are fulfilled before Moses’ death, but complete fulfilment awaits the future.” (Page 157)
“Genesis 12:1–3 are the first words God has spoken to man since the flood. Traditionally they are referred to as the call of Abraham, but they are much more than that: they sum up the theme of Genesis, if not the whole Pentateuch. In this call the Lord promises Abraham four things: 1) a land, 2) numerous descendants (‘a great nation’), 3) blessing, that is protection and success, 4) blessing of the nations.” (Page 40)
I like the dynamic, interactive approach of this textbook … an excellent introduction to the critical questions … I can see it working at a range of levels.
—The Revd. Dr. Loveday Alexander, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, University of Sheffield