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That crazy Sailhamer

July 7, 2004

So I’m reading through a paper he presented at ETS a few years ago, and I’m digging it. You can download it and read it by clicking on this here link, The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible.

Here’s a choice passage. Tell me what you think. I dig his likening the Pentateuch to a musical. Makes sense to me. Read on:

5. A test case: Is the Pentateuch Messianic? So, is the Pentateuch Messianic? If so, how? In what follows, I want to lay out the main lines of argument which, I believe, support the view that the Pentateuch was written primarily as a presentation of a future messianic hope centered in the tribe of Judah and grounded both in creation and covenant.
a. The Pentateuch is a single book with a single purpose. First, it is important to show that the whole of the Pentateuch (from Genesis to Deuteronomy) was intended to be read as a single book with a distinct purpose, focus, and message. That is to say, the Pentateuch had an author, and its author had a purpose in writing this great literary work. The Pentateuch is about something. What this means is that the whole of the Pentateuch has a de�nite shape and structure. It is not haphazardly thrown together. It is not merely a diary of events. It is not a hodgepodge of early documents. To me this has been the most beguiling feature of the Documentary Hypothesis� its complete disregard of and disdain for the text as we now have it. The Pentateuch is surely going somewhere, and its author has taken great pains to guide us along that route. There is a single �literary strategy� that runs through the whole of the Pentateuch.

(Footnote) Let me quickly add that I am not raising the question of whether the Pentateuch �points to� Jesus and the NT. To say the Pentateuch is about the Messiah is not yet to say it is about Jesus. Those are two separate and equally important questions. We must first ask whether the Pentateuch is about the Messiah and then ask whether Jesus is the Messiah. The Pentateuch (and the rest of the Hebrew Bible) tells us there will be a Messiah. The NT tells us that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Hebrew Bible. It does so by identifying Jesus as the one about whom the Hebrew Bible speaks. This means that, in my opinion, there is an mportant apologetic value to the identity of Jesus as the OT Messiah. By identifying Jesus as the OT Messiah, the NT makes the claim that Jesus is the true Messiah.

There are several lines of argument which, I believe, show us that the Pentateuch is a unity and has a single, intentional structure.
(1) The Pentateuch recounts a single story that begins with the creation of the world and the preparation of the land and ends with the postponement of the possession of that land. A central theme of the Pentateuch is the land.
(2) The large blocks of narrative (primeval history, patriarchs, exodus, wilderness, conquest) are linked by a single theme�that is, faith. Someone, namely its author, has linked all the events in Israel�s early history to the theme of faith.
(3) The arrangement of major, homogeneous poetic texts in Genesis 49, Numbers 24, and Deuteronomy 32 suggests the Pentateuch�s narratives are linked by the single messianic theme that recurs in these poems. In this regard the Pentateuch is like a Hollywood musical. As in a musical, the story is both interrupted and developed by the songs (poems). Also like a musical, the songs (poems) are not randomly thrown into the story. The songs (poems) carry the central theme of the story. They are the primary means for developing what the narratives are about. A careful attention to the songs (poems) enables us see what the Pentateuch is about.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Fly Molo permalink
    July 7, 2004 11:55 pm

    Hmmm….I need to read this on more sleep, I think. It does make sense, although I’m not the largest fan of musicals, or using muscials in examples. However, his footnote… yeah. That makes even more sense to me. NT as apologetic.

    Also, changes are afoot at Typepad. At least on my end of the Typepad thing. Check your email for more details.


  2. July 8, 2004 1:36 pm

    Has Sailhammer SEEN Moulin Rouge? Today’s musical is just outta control.

    Yeah, I need more sleep.

    Good thoughts though.

  3. July 12, 2004 2:07 am

    Like E, I definitely dug the footnote—Such a wise distinction that most Christians would never think to make (of course Jesus is the Messiah—who else would be?).

    As far as the musical comment, I’m fairly unqualified to comment . . . seems it’s been since freshman year that I actually read the Pentateuch all the way through, and let’s say that I . . . wasn’t necessarily thinking along these lines then . . .

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