Tag Archives: The Meaning of the Pentateuch

“It was right there in the text” by D.A. Carson

“Paul assesses the significance of Israel and the Sinai covenant within the larger biblical narrative. It is this essentially salvation-historical reading of Genesis that enables him to come within a whisker of treating the Sinai covenant as a parenthesis: the law’s most important function is to bring Israel, across time, to Christ—and to bring others, too, insofar as the ‘law’ is found among those ‘without the law.’

Here, then, too, we obtain a glimpse of how something could be simultaneously long hidden / eventually revealed and long prophesied / eventually fulfilled. It was right there in the text (provided one reads the Scriptures with careful respect for the significance of the historical sequence), even though, transparently, this was not how it was read by Paul the Pharisee.

Doubtless it took the Damascus road Christophany to make Saul of Tarsus recognize that his estimate of Jesus was wrong: Jesus could not be written off as a (literally) God-damned malefactor if in fact His glorious resurrection proved He was vindicated, and so the controlling paradigm of his reading of the Old Testament had to change.

But when it changed, Paul wanted his hearers and readers to understand that the Old Testament, rightly read in its salvation-historical structure, led to Christ.

In other words, as far as Paul was concerned the gospel he preached was announced in advance in the Scriptures, and was fulfilled in the events surrounding the coming, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—even if this gospel had long been hidden, and was now revealed in those events and thus in the gospel Paul preached—the gospel revealed, indeed, through the prophetic writings.”

–D.A. Carson, “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. Peter T. O’Brien and Mark A. Seifrid; vol. 2, 181st ed.; Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Tübingen: Baker Academic; Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 2: 427–428.

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“The law was added because of transgressions” by John H. Sailhamer

“Throughout the narratives of Exodus 19-Deuteronomy there are numerous examples of Israel’s failure to follow God’s will. Here we can see the hand of the author at work. After each episode of disobedience we can see that God gave Israel a new and more complete set of laws.

As Israel continued to transgress the laws given to them, God continued to give them more. God did not give up on His people. When they sinned, he added laws to keep them from sinning further.

The laws were not added to keep them from sinning; the laws were added to keep them from disappearing into the world of sin around them. It thus was the transgressions of the people that provided the motivation for God’s giving the Mosaic law.

As the transgressions increased, more laws were added.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 561.

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“One should also move in the other direction” by John H. Sailhamer

“Evangelical approaches to the Messiah in the Old Testament often have focused on reading the New Testament back into the Old Testament. I am suggesting that one should also move in the other direction.

The Old Testament sheds a great deal of light on the New Testament. Our primary objective should be to read the New Testament in light of the Old Testament, not vice versa.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 246.

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“Not a guide but the goal” by John H. Sailhamer

“The New Testament is not so much a guide to understanding the Old Testament as it is the goal of understanding the Old Testament. Unless we understand the Old Testament picture of the Messiah, we will not recognize the New Testament picture of Jesus.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 233.

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“The meaning of the Pentateuch” by John H. Sailhamer

“The big idea of the Pentateuch is the importance of living by faith.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 22.

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