Soaking up the Pentateuch: an intentional strategy

The first five books of the Bible are the foundation of the rest of the Scriptures. In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy form one book, called the Pentateuch (i.e. five books). The Pentateuch was meant to be read as a whole, with each of its parts interpreting and building upon each other. There is so much allusion, quotation, and intertextual reference to the Pentateuch throughout the rest of the Bible that a close reading and continual study of the Pentateuch is essential in understanding the rest of written revelation. You cannot understand the NT without the OT, and you cannot understand the OT without the Pentateuch. When the Old Testament speaks of the Law of Moses, it is speaking of the Pentateuch. Though often neglected by today's Christians, the OT and NT writers assumed that their readers were intimately familiar with the contents of this book. Indeed, we are told to “meditate on it day and night” (Cf. Josh 1:8).

What’s more, the Pentateuch is about Jesus, the Christ. It contains the Gospel. After his resurrection on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus begins “with Moses” as he explains to them “the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk 24:27). Later, Jesus again says to his other disciples, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Lk 24:44). Jesus had already put forth this teaching when he told the Jews, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (Jn 5:46). If Jesus’ words carry any weight with you, then you must believe that the Pentateuch is about Christ. If the Pentateuch is foundational for the entire Bible, and Jesus says it is about himself, then I think we would do well to know it inside and out; to have its narratives shape our concept of reality; to have its images and worldview seared into our minds; to not be able to avoid its drive towards faith;

After thinking about these things, I’m convicted about my ignorance sometimes of this book’s content and message. Therefore, I’ve decided to read through the Pentateuch at a regular and consistent rate. I hope to become intimately acquainted with its characters and profoundly shaped by its narrative structure. However hopelessly idealistic and absurd that sounds, I provide the plan that I’m following in hopes that others will join me in this desperate attempt to know the Savior and Scripture more fully through a close reading of the Pentateuch.

There are 187 chapters in the Pentateuch, and at an average of about 7 chapters a day, you can read it in 27 days. This allows you to complete the book in a month’s time, with a few missed or half days. If you could do this at least 3 or 4 times a year, I think your understanding of Scripture and of the person of Jesus Christ will deepen immensely.

1. Gen 1-7
2. Gen 8-14
3. Gen 15-21
4. Gen 22-28
5. Gen 29-35
6. Gen 36-42
7. Gen 43-50
8. Ex 1-7
9. Ex 8-14
10. Ex 15-21
11. Ex 22-28
12. Ex 29-35
13. Ex 36-40
14. Lev 1-7
15. Lev 8-14
16. Lev 15-21
17. Lev 22-27
18. Num 1-7
19. Num 8-14
20. Num 15-21
21. Num 22-28
22. Num 29-36
23. Deut 1-7
24. Duet 8-14
25. Duet 15-21
26. Duet 22-28
27. Duet 29-34

If you've actually made it this far in the post, and are interested in the exciting theology, structure, and content of the Pentateuch, John Sailhamer's Pentateuch as Narrative is an excellent place to begin.
Biblical Theology
December 5, 2006


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