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A Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch

Interpreting the Torah as Christian Scripture

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"A well-proportioned and substantive introduction to the first five books of the Bible. The book is nicely designed and executed--a valuable text for the classroom."--Christopher R. Seitz, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
 In this concise volume, a team of fresh Old Testament voices explores the theological dimensions of the Pentateuch and provides specific examples of critically engaged theological interpretation. This Pentateuch text is unique in that it emphasizes theological reading, serving as an affordable supplement to traditional introductory Pentateuch texts. Each chapter introduces theological themes and issues in interpretation then offers exegesis of one or two representative passages to model theological interpretation in practice. This useful text will be valued by students of the Old Testament and the Pentateuch as well as pastors. It honors Walter Moberly, whose approach is played out in the book.
Introduction: Reading the Pentateuch as Christian Scripture
Richard S. Briggs and Joel N. Lohr
1. The Book of Genesis
Richard S. Briggs
2. The Book of Exodus
Jo Bailey Wells
3. The Book of Leviticus
Joel N. Lohr
4. The Book of Numbers
Nathan MacDonald

5. The Book of Deuteronomy
Rob Barrett
Appendix: The Writings of R. W. L. Moberly on the Pentateuch
Nathan MacDonald with Richard S. Briggs


"A penetrating primer on what it means to read the Pentateuch well as 'theologically interested interpreters'--and a lovely tribute to the probing insight and pedagogical skill of Walter Moberly by some of his former students and close associates. The authors offer full coverage of all five pentateuchal books along with sustained engagements of several key texts. The volume concludes with an appendix detailing the cumulative scope of Moberly's distinctive contributions to pentateuchal study."

Stephen B. Chapman, associate professor of Old Testament, Duke University

"It is extraordinary how theological interpretation has become a growth industry and has almost become a respectable enterprise--and certainly now a confident one. This is an urbane introduction to its nature, a suggestive theological introduction to each of the books of the Pentateuch. It matches the urbane elegance of Walter Moberly, who inspired it among colleagues and former students. Like Moberly's work, A Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch takes up big theological issues but anchors them in careful, detailed studies of particular passages. It thus illuminates on the macro scale and on the micro scale."

John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"A Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch is a well-proportioned and substantive introduction to the first five books of the Bible with hermeneutical guidance in the form of sample interpretation of key texts for each book. The book is nicely designed and executed--a valuable text for the classroom. It serves as an excellent tribute to Walter Moberly and his own exegetical work. Well done!"

Christopher R. Seitz, research professor of biblical interpretation, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"Briggs and Lohr, along with their cowriters, have exploited the inheritance of their teacher Walter Moberly to engage with the best of historical-critical and literary approaches to each book of the Pentateuch. Both for the general landscape of theological perspectives on each book and for the exemplary exploration of a specific text (or two) in each book, this volume provides an essential introduction to the field of theological interpretation at the beginning of the Bible."

Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary

"Few portions of Scripture seem to yield such an unending discovery of riches and resources to scholar and layperson alike as do the five books of the Pentateuch. The essays in this volume add richly and discerningly to those discoveries. Happily, each writer moves beyond the necessary historical and literary questions in order to engage the text theologically. I highly recommend this volume of collected essays to any reader who is interested in pursuing theological interpretation of the biblical text."

Victor P. Hamilton, professor emeritus of Old Testament studies, Asbury University

The Authors

  1. Richard S. Briggs

    Richard S. Briggs

    Richard S. Briggs (PhD, University of Nottingham) is lecturer in Old Testament and director of biblical studies at Cranmer Hall, St. John's College, Durham University. He is an ordained minister in the Church of England, where he serves as prior of...

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  2. Joel N. Lohr

    Joel N. Lohr

    Joel N. Lohr (PhD, University of Durham) is president of Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. He previously served as university chaplain and director of religious life at the University of the Pacific.

    Continue reading about Joel N. Lohr


"The volume is a fitting tribute to Walter L. Moberly. His students have summarized well his general interest in theological interpretation. They have provided helpful readings of the pentateuchal books, with insight into the continuing influence of the Torah into the New Testament literature. . . . Moberly will certainly gift us with many more theological readings of the Old Testament, and we can only hope that his students provide us with further summaries of his continuing work."

Thomas B. Dozeman,

Review of Biblical Literature

"One of the main strengths of this work is the excellent summary offered by each author in detailing the main theological themes of each book in the Pentateuch. In addition, the case studies provide a clear window in to the types of conclusions that come forth when one seeks to interpret the Torah as Christian Scripture. . . . Walter Moberly's modus operandi in his own writings have been mirrored in this volume. He has argued that each biblical text must be carefully examined and that the historical-critical background and literary dimensions of the text must also be taken into account. In addition, he espouses that a sustained engagement with key texts is the best place to derive theology and that the key character in all these texts is God. Walter Moberly should be proud that his students have followed faithfully in his footsteps in this volume dedicated to him."

James F. Coakley,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"This book is both a concise theological introduction to each of the five books of the Pentateuch and a 'small-scale Festschrift' for Walter L. Moberly on the occasion of his 60th birthday written by five of Moberly's former PhD students. . . . . This work is suitable as a textbook for a course on the Pentateuch. But above all the work serves as a tribute to Walter Moberly who has greatly influenced each of these his former students."

Joe M. Sprinkle,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"Unlike many Festschrifts in the field, the affordability of this book allows for a wide readership and ownership. Biblical scholars interested in theological interpretation and in studies on the Torah would benefit from its discussion. I recommend the work also to seminary and church-related college libraries."

Tyler Mayfield,

Religious Studies Review

"Numerous recent studies have considered the Torah according to its theological content. This edited volume contributes to these contemporary efforts in a way that is both constructive and current--specifically engaging the Torah (as the title proclaims) as Christian Scripture. . . . This volume is refreshing. . . . Rarely do you find Old Testament theological works that deal with 'micro-textual' questions--questions that apply the respective methods on the 'passage-level.' As someone who enjoys seeing students connect the theology of individual texts to life and ministry, I believe this volume represents a step in the right direction. . . . Each of the essays offers some suggestions as to how the biblical text connects with the modern community of faith. . . . The synopsis of theological themes in each essay represents an accessible and accurate summary to anyone wanting a quick overview of the major themes of each respective Pentateuchal book. . . . Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch represents a step forward in Pentateuchal studies--one that many who want to see the Pentateuch (and individual texts within it) engaged on a more theological level will welcome."

Bryan Cribb,

American Theological Inquiry

"Unlike many books that are a collection of works by different authors, this book has a consistent theme and methodology in each chapter. This gives the book continuity. . . . Overall, the book is scholarly; yet it is quite readable for the non-scholar. Appropriately written for the student in biblical studies, it does get a bit technical in the interpretation sections. A diligent student should be able to handle them, however, without much trouble. . . . The book would be a great resource for a professor to use as a companion textbook for a course on the Pentateuch."

Terry W. Eddinger,

Biblical Theology Bulletin

"There is much to be commended in this book. First, this book provides several very useful examples of theological interpretation. . . . Second, much of the introductory material in each chapter is very clear and informative and will be helpful to readers less familiar with these books. Finally, this book provides a useful introduction to Walter Moberly's understanding of theological interpretation and will, no doubt, encourage more readers to take up his writings. . . . This book will prove a useful conversation partner for OT specialists interested in the theological interpretation of Scripture."

Mark Francois,


"A Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch has a number of strengths. The theological analyses concluding the chapters exhibit fresh approaches to the text, yielding discussions that are worthwhile. Additionally, the book's attention to the relationship between the Pentateuch and the NT is a welcome contribution, and the authors exhibit exegetical sensitivity and theological care when they discuss this relationship. This careful attention to the NT is one of the book's distinguishing features. Finally, the authors remain focused on the book's stated purpose of providing a theological introduction to the Pentateuch. . . . Even when readers may disagree with the authors' conclusions, their discussions are worthy of reflection. This book is not for novices to biblical studies, yet intermediate and advanced students will likely find it engaging."

Lance Higginbotham,

Trinity Journal

"[This book] provides a fresh reading of the Pentateuch as a theological work. . . . This is a book for students who are beginning to take a deeper look into the Pentateuch. The authors emphasize a close reading of the final form of the text, and their devotion to a theological interpretation helps the reader stay focused on the ultimate purpose of biblical study. . . . A Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch does service to the study [of the] Pentateuch and I recommend it . . . to any reader who seeks to take the first five books of the Bible seriously as theological works with a theological message to the Christian Church."--William K. Bechtold III, Midwestern Journal of Theology

William K. Bechtold III,

Midwestern Journal of Theology

"This is a helpful introduction on the theology of the first five books of the Old Testament. The book concisely summarizes the major scholarly interpretive approaches to the Pentateuch, overviews the contents of each book, presents major theological themes, and illustrates good theological interpretation in relation to Christians today. . . . This book makes a helpful contribution to evangelicals who want a concise summary of the theological themes and message of the Pentateuch while considering the critical views of scholars on the sources and makeup of these books."

Roger D. Cotton,