Interpreting the Pentateuch: An Exegetical Handbook

Overview

In this latest addition to the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series, Peter T. Vogt continues the tradition of excellence established by previous volumes. Divided into three parts, Interpreting the Pentateuch first provides an overview of the major themes of the Pentateuch. In the second part, Vogt offers resources and strategies for interpreting and understanding the first five books of the Bible by exploring its genres-law and narrative. Finally, Vogt shows that, although the Pentateuch is a collection of...
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Overview

In this latest addition to the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series, Peter T. Vogt continues the tradition of excellence established by previous volumes. Divided into three parts, Interpreting the Pentateuch first provides an overview of the major themes of the Pentateuch. In the second part, Vogt offers resources and strategies for interpreting and understanding the first five books of the Bible by exploring its genres-law and narrative. Finally, Vogt shows that, although the Pentateuch is a collection of ancient texts, it still has contemporary significance. Vogt also includes two samples-one from law and one from narrative-of exegesis, giving students a start-to-finish example of the techniques he has illustrated for effective exegesis.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter T. Vogt (PhD, University of Gloucestershire) is associate professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary St. Paul. He is the author of Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah: A Reappraisal.

David M. Howard, Jr. (Ph.D. University of Michigan) is Professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He has published seven books and numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays, and is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

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Table of Contents

Series Preface 15

Preface 19

Abbreviations 23

1 The Genres of the Pentateuch 25

Law 25

The Nature of Torah 26

The Law After Moses 30

Historical Approaches to the Law 32

Patristic Interpretation of Law 32

Medieval Interpretation of Law 36

The Reformation and the Interpretation of Law 37

Other Contemporary Approaches to the Interpretation of Law 40

A Paradigmatic Approach to Law 42

Problems with Traditional Approaches to Law 42

An Alternative: A Paradigmatic Approach 45

Narrative 48

The Nature of Narrative 48

Narratives Are a Selective Record of Events 49

Narratives Have a Purpose 50

Narratives Are Written in an Engaging Manner 52

Features of Narrative 52

Scene 53

Plot 53

Dialogue 56

Point of View 58

2 Major Themes of the Pentateuch 61

The Sovereignty and Supremacy of Yahweh 62

Genesis 62

Exodus 65

Leviticus 67

Numbers 68

Deuteronomy 70

The Seriousness Of Sin 71

Genesis 72

Exodus 74

Leviticus 74

Numbers 76

Deuteronomy 78

The Grace of Yahweh 79

Genesis 79

Exodus 80

Leviticus 83

Numbers 83

Deuteronomy 85

Integrative Concept: "Restoration Project" 85

3 Getting Started 93

Text Criticism of the Pentateuch 93

Principles of Text Criticism 94

The MT Is Not Always the Original 94

Rely on Internal Evidence 94

The Reading That Explains the Others is Probably Original 94

Text Criticism in Action 95

Deuteronomy 32:8 95

Exodus 20:17 96

Text Criticism and Biblical Authority 98

Ancient Near Eastern Parallels To Biblical Texts 99

Overview of Ancient Near Eastern Worldview 100

The Gods Were Very Real 101

All of Life Had Religious Significance 102

Corporate Identity WasParamount 102

Legal Texts 103

Code of Hammurabi 105

Middle Assyrian Laws 106

Ancient Near Eastern Laws and Worldview 107

Narrative Texts 108

Atrahasis 109

Enuma Elish 110

Gilgamesh Epic 111

Comparing Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Materials 112

Bibliographical Helps and Tools For Interpretation 117

Introductions and General Works 117

Text Criticism 118

Interpretation of Biblical Law 119

Interpretation of Biblical Narratives 120

Sociohistorical Background to the Pentateuch 121

Primary Sources of Ancient Near Eastern Literature 122

Individual Books 123

Genesis 123

Exodus 124

Leviticus 125

Numbers 125

Deuteronomy 126

4 Interpreting the Pentateuch 129

Unity and Diversity in the Pentateuch 129

The Documentary Hypothesis 130

An Alternative Approach 132

Interpreting Law 136

Preliminary Considerations 136

Guidelines for Interpretation 137

Determine the Contexts of the Passage 137

Identify the Kind of Law(s) Involved 138

Determine the Nature of the Legal Requirement 140

Describe the Purpose of the Law in Israel 141

Identify Applicability of the Purpose in a Contemporary Context 143

Interpreting Narrative 146

Preliminary Considerations 146

Guidelines for Interpretation 147

Establish the Co-text of the Passage 147

Identify and Label the Scenes in the Narrative 148

Analyze the Plot 148

Examine the Details of the Scenes 149

Identify the Communicative Intention of the Author 151

Recontextualize the Text for a Contemporary Setting 153

5 Communicating the Genres of the Pentateuch 157

Preliminary Considerations 158

Attitudes Toward the Old Testament 158

Ignorance of the Old Testament 162

Lack of Awareness of the Old Testament's Coherence 164

Communicating Law 165

Strategies for Communication 166

Address the Cultural Connotations of Law 166

Note the Purpose of the Law in Its Original Setting 167

Discuss the Implications of Jesus' Ministry for the Law's Relevance 169

Address the Applicability of the Law in a Contemporary Setting 170

Communicating Narrative 172

Strategies for Communication 172

Let the Story Speak for Itself 172

Tie in Contemporary Parallels to the Biblical Story 174

Communicate Literary Artistry 175

Allow for Ambiguity 176

Additional Resources 178

6 Putting It All Together 179

Interpreting and Communicating a Legal Text: Leviticus 19:28 179

Interpreting the Text 180

Determine the Contexts of the Passage 180

Identify the Kind(s) of Law Involved 182

Determine the Nature of the Legal Requirement 183

Describe the Purpose of the Law in Israel 186

Identify the Applicability of the Original Purpose in a Contemporary Context 188

Communicating the Text 190

Address the Cultural Connotations of Law 190

Note the Purpose of the Law in Its Original Setting 190

Discuss the Implications of Jesus' Ministry for the Law's Relevance 191

Address the Applicability of the Law in a Contemporary Setting 192

Interpreting and Communicating a Narrative Text: Genesis 39 194

Interpreting the Text 195

Establish the Co-text of the Passage 195

Identify and Label the Scenes in the Narrative 196

Analyze the Plot 197

Examine the Details of the Scenes 200

Identify the Communicative Intention of the Author 202

Recontextualize the Text for a Contemporary Setting 204

Communicating the Text 204

Let the Story Speak for Itself 205

Tie in Contemporary Parallels to the Biblical Story 206

Communicate Literary Artistry 208

Allow for Ambiguity 208

Glossary 211

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