The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation
The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation
Special Study

The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation

by John H. Sailhamer

Pages 640
Publisher IVP Academic
Published 2009
ISBN-13 9780830838677
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.


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


Add Your Review

MattQuintana MattQuintana September 7, 2021
Brilliant. Monumental. Paradigm-shifting. John Sailhamer's magnum opus and final academic achievement before his untimely passing is a tour de force in not only Pentateuchal studies, but in exegesis, hermeneutics, compositional analysis, and biblical theology. It has the potential to transform one's understanding of the Pentateuch, along with one's reading of the entire Bible.

It is not just for the "theological uber geek." John Piper's exhortation is appropriate: "To all pastors and serious readers of the Old Testament—geek, uber geek, under geek, no geek—if you graduated from high school and know the word “m e a n i n g,” sell your latest Piper book and buy Sailhamer. There is nothing like it. It will rock your world. You will never read the 'Pentateuch' the same again. It is totally readable. You can skip all the footnotes and not miss a beat."

This book is very long and is extremely dense. It will require thoughtful engagement and extended commitment. However, the payoff will be magnificent. Take up and read! You will not regret it.