Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Fifth Day of Christmas - the Pentateuch

Having encountered the first four books of the New Testament yesterday - today's gift relates to the first five books of the Old - the name coming from the Greek, Penta (five) Teuch[os] (volumes, vessels or containers) - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Originally found as one volume (as it is in Jewish bookstores today) it was probably Ptolemy Philadelphus and his seventy translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek that split them into five separate volumes (I'll cover Philadelphus sometime today) and formalised the names according to that which is contained in them:
Genesis - Beginning (because it starts with 'in the beginning') through to the Patriarchs and exile
Exodus - The departure from Egypys and the journey through the  wilderness to Mount Sinai
Leviticus - The Levites were the Priests and is all about what they, and the people, do to serve God
Numbers - Takes it up from Sinai to the very edges of Canaan, the 'Promised Land'
Deuteronomy - originally thought to be the Words of Moses to the Jews on the Plain of Moab before heading into the 'Promised land'

In both Old and New Testaments the Pentateuch is a single entity and it is important - something that the way in which it is regarded by both clearly demonstrates:

The Law - Joshua 1.7; Ezra 10.3; Nehemiah 8.2,7,14; 10.34,36; 12.44; 13.3; 2 Chronicles 14.4; 31.21; 33.8; Matthew 12.5; Luke 16.16; John 7.19
The Book of Moses - Mark 12.26
The Law of Moses - 1 Kings 2.3; Daniel 9.11; Malachi 4.4; Luke 2.22; 24.44; John 7.23
The Book of the Law - Joshua 1.8; 8.34; 2 Kings 22.8; Nehemiah 8; Galatians 3.10
The Book of the Law of Moses - Joshua 8.31; 23.6; 2 Kings 14.6; Nehemiah 8.1
The Law of God - Nehemiah 10.28, 29
The Law of the Lord - Ezra 7.10; l Chronicles 16.40; 2 Chronicles 31.3; 35.26; Luke 2.23,24
The Book of the Law of God - Joshua 24.26; Nehemiah 8.18; 
The Book of the Law of the LORD* - 2 Chronicles 17:9; 34.14
His (Moses’) Writings - John 5.46

Divisions within the Pentateuch
Beginnings: Genesis 1 - 11
Patriarchal Narratives: Genesis 12 - 50
Oppression and deliverance of the Jews: Exodus 1 - 19
Camped at Mount Sinai: Exodus 20 - Numbers 10
Wandering in the wilderness: Numbers 10 - 21
Getting ready for entry into Canaan: Numbers 22 - Deuteronomy 34

The Pentateuch is rightly found at the beginning of the Torah (Jewish Bible if you like) and the Christian Bible because it is the foundation upon which the rest of the Old and New Testament stands. It outlines the very beginnings of all that is; the 'people of God' (the Jews) and God's interaction with all of humanity. It is generally fair to say that everything before it might be regarded as before history (and is therefore 'prehistoric!'). It is the source of Jewish theological thought and forms the basis for civil, moral and religious laws (theirs and ours today to a great extent).

Not an easy read in parts, but truly and essential read: Enjoy


*LORD = YHWH (Yahweh - The God)

ps. Someone remind me to explain JEDP some time in January ;-)

1 comment:

The Underground Pewster said...

Ignore reading the O.T. and the N.T. loses a lot. Scholars have noted the many connections, but I find it good to make them yourself. A Bible with footnotes helps to remind you of the connections you miss.