From Paradise to the Promised Land, 3rd Edition

An Introduction to the Pentateuch

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase


"There is no doubt that theology undergraduates and anybody who takes an interest in the riches of the Pentateuch are indebted to Alexander for providing us with a highly readable, informative, and at times even innovative book."--Michael Widmer, Themelios

This text has been a popular introduction to the Pentateuch for over fifteen years, offering a unique alternative to the critical approaches that focus on the composition of these books rather than the actual content. With this new edition, T. Desmond Alexander keeps the book fresh and relevant for contemporary students by updating the references and adding material that reflects recent pentateuchal research as well as the author's maturing judgments. The result is a revision that will prove valuable for many years to come.

Part 1: Pentateuchal Criticism
1. Introduction to Pentateuchal Criticism
2. The Rise of the Documentary Hypothesis
3. Going behind the Documents
4. The Documentary Hypothesis under Threat
5. The Sinai Narrative--A Test Case
6. The Future of Pentateuchal Studies
Part 2: The Main Themes of the Pentateuch
7. An Overview of the Pentateuch
8. God's Temple-City
9. The Royal Lineage in Genesis
10. The Blessing of the Nations
11. Paradise Lost
12. By Faith Abraham . . .
13. Who Is the LORD?
14. The Passover
15. The Covenant at Sinai
16. The Tabernacle
17. Be Holy
18. The Sacrificial System
19. The Clean and the Unclean Foods
20. Toward the Promised Land
21. Murmurings
22. Love and Loyalty
23. Why Israel?
24. The Pentateuch and the Biblical Metanarrative
Recommended Further Reading


Praise for previous editions

"In this up-to-date and scholarly work, Alexander shows how the first five books of the Bible make sense and hang together. More than that, they lay the foundations of Christian theology so that no one can properly understand the rest of the Bible who has not come to terms with them. Alexander will be found to be a lucid and reliable guide to this vital part of Scripture."--Gordon J. Wenham, Trinity College, Bristol

"Two virtues about From Paradise to the Promised Land have especially struck me. One is the comprehensiveness of the way it seeks to help us grasp the Pentateuch. The other is the way Alexander shows us how different themes hold these books together--themes such as the sanctuary, kingship, and the land. Both these features open up possibilities in grasping the Pentateuch as a whole."--John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Desmond Alexander provides an introduction that considers the Pentateuch as a whole, both thematically and theologically. The Pentateuch is presented as a unity, yet the variety of topics within it receive substantial and penetrating treatment. It is the sort of study that many readers and their teachers have long wanted on this first section of the Old Testament."--J. Gordon McConville, University of Gloucestershire

The Author

  1. T. Desmond Alexander

    T. Desmond Alexander

    T. Desmond Alexander (PhD, The Queen's University, Belfast) is senior lecturer in biblical studies and director of postgraduate studies at Union Theological College in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has written numerous books, including two commentaries on...

    Continue reading about T. Desmond Alexander


"The continuing value in the work lies in three areas: an orientation to the final form of the text, the identification of biblical themes, and a linkage between these pentateuchal themes and the NT. . . . From Paradise to the Promised Land achieves its objectives, providing a thorough overview of the Pentateuch, exploration of major themes, and linages to the NT."--Bryan C. Babcock, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"This third edition is an improvement on what was already an excellent resource for the study of the Bible's first five books."--Taylor Ince, Expository Times

"From Paradise to the Promised Land reflects an expertise on the Pentateuch gained from many years of studying and teaching it to others. The fact that it is now in its third edition after nearly twenty years is evidence of this volume's lasting value. . . . This book ably fulfills its goal of introducing the Pentateuch by 1) preparing readers to interact with the secondary literature and 2) orienting them to the metanarrative and main themes of the Pentateuch itself."--Parker Landis, Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament

"The third edition has been thoroughly edited according to American English. . . . Second, a new chapter regarding the theme of the temple-city has been added. Third, the conclusion to each part of the book has been largely rewritten. Fourth, nearly every chapter has been updated or expanded in some way. . . . The greatest strength of this book is that by dealing with research both about the Pentateuch (its origin and development) and in the Pentateuch (its content and themes), the book is able to offer readers a solid foundation for reading other academic research concerning the Pentateuch and a framework for reading the Pentateuch with understanding towards its unity and place in the whole Bible. The third edition will help readers see the Pentateuch's role in the Bible even better."--Joshua E. Williams, Southeastern Theological Review

Praise for previous editions

"An excellent overview of major themes in the Pentateuch. . . . An excellent tool that should be used by anyone planning to preach or teach through these books."--Biblical Booklist

"[A] wealth of useful and accessible information on the Pentateuch. . . . This book is especially welcome as a solid introduction accessible to undergraduate students."--Eric W. Bolger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"It is excellent and will serve the needs of its intended audience if it is supplemented by the traditional introductions."--Terrance A. Clarke, Presbyterion

"A good literary introduction to the Pentateuch."--Dianne Bergant, The Bible Today

"Eminently useful. . . . Studying the Pentateuch by means of commentaries can be compared to looking at the separate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. While we may find something of interest in each piece, it is only when all the pieces are put together that we get the complete picture. Alexander puts the puzzle together in ways that bring the larger picture of the Pentateuch into a sharp, Christ-centered focus."--Reed Lessing, Concordia Journal

"This book witnesses to a real effort at dialogue with historical-critical methods and approaches to the Pentateuch."--Jean-Daniel Macchi, Review of Biblical Literature

"The overview and evaluation of pentateuchal criticism is one of the best currently available. It is up-to-date, thorough, and clear. Alexander does a good job of helping beginners sort through the various schools of criticism, clarifying their similarities and differences. . . . Both students confronting the topic for the first time and pastors looking for a review/update will find this section to be an excellent resource. . . . The second part is also quite useful."--John F. Brug, Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly

"The primary strength of Alexander's book is that it helps us to grasp the Pentateuch as a whole. . . . There is no doubt that theology undergraduates and anybody who takes an interest in the riches of the Pentateuch are indebted to Alexander for providing us with a highly readable, informative, and at times even innovative book."--Michael Widmer, Themelios

"A well-balanced introduction to the Pentateuch, a comprehensive and up-to-date scholarly work, presenting the contemporary academic approaches to the first five books of the Moses. . . . [Alexander] is able to guide the reader through the maze of modern approaches to the Pentateuch, and superbly emphasizes it as a unified literary work, arguing that the Pentateuch should be viewed from Genesis to the Kings. . . . The breadth and depth of his discussion on the main themes of the Pentateuch are commendable. The author is to be commended for linking some Old Testament texts with New Testament themes. . . . This book is worth reading."--Joseph Too Shao, Evangelical Review of Theology

"Bearing in mind the target audience--students with an awareness of the first five books of the Bible but a rather modest understanding of its content and complexities--there are a number of strengths in this book. First, the survey of the Documentary Hypothesis in part 1 is competent and helpful. . . . Second, the range of secondary studies is an admirable blending of different perspectives and methodological viewpoints. . . . Third, although not a commentary, the remarks on selected passages are helpful for the intended audience. . . . This textbook can be recommended for professors as a useful guide or supplement to courses on the Pentateuch and as a resource for wider research."--Keith Bodner, Review of Biblical Literature

"This third edition adds new material with revised chapters to varying degrees in order to navigate through the labyrinth of modern approaches to the Pentateuch and focus on its main themes. . . . Alexander has provided an excellent resource that will deepen his readers' love for the Pentateuch and will help them understand it in the context of all Scripture. . . . We can be grateful for a work that affirms the unity of the Pentateuch, takes it on its own terms, puts forth a diverse but coherent message, and views its storyline in light of the whole biblical metanarrative that reaches its terminus in the person and work of Christ."--Oren R. Martin, Trinity Journal