Shaping Christian Identity through the Pentateuch: Reading the Pentateuch Christianly

The paper asserts that the Pentateuch’s message may contribute to shaping Christian identity. Despite the significant influence of the Pentateuch on the development of the Christian faith, scholars interested in the subject of Christian identity have overlooked this foundational text, preferring to focus on early Christianity instead. The essay acknowledges that Christian identity is an intricate and multifaced topic in scholarly discourse and recognizes that the primary goal of the writer of the Pentateuch may not have been to address Christian identity directly. However, considering the Pentateuch’s significance in constructing the message of Christian Scripture—the Old and New Testament—it would be remiss to overlook the potential influence that the Pentateuch may have had in shaping Christian identity.
The essay focuses on the Pentateuch’s literary and rhetorical features, especially its compositional strategy to communicate the book’s message. It does not consider reading the Pentateuch from the perspectives of the New Testament and the rest of the OT books in advance. Instead, while the essay acknowledges that noticing the clarity and unity of Scripture is crucial to understanding Christian identity, it first and foremost focuses on revealing the Pentateuch’s own message. It then briefly explains how the rest of Scripture (esp. the New Testament) clarifies and completes the outcome of the current research. In short, the essay does not attempt the New Testament’s reading of the Pentateuch but exhibits how the message of the Pentateuch contributes to constructing the zenith of Christian identity.
In pursuit of the assigned task, first, the paper demonstrates the Pentateuch’s strategy in persuading its readers to live not by the Mosaic law but by faith, as the book describes the Israelites’ failure in keeping the Mosaic law and the consequence of it. This does not mean that the book tells the irrelevancy of the Mosaic law but highlights the Israelites’ inability to keep the law. Thus, the book urges its readers to adopt a profound approach in their lives instead of superficial compliance with the law. Second, this essay emphasizes the importance of hope in the Pentateuch, encouraging readers to maintain a forward-looking perspective. The book foreshadows the promise of the New Covenant as a means of overcoming the Israelites’ inability to adhere to the Old Covenant(i.e., the Mosaic law). Third, the paper touches upon the messianic vision of the Pentateuch by portraying Moses as a figure embodying the roles of king, prophet, and priest. Though the Pentateuch’s portrayal of each figure through Moses may be somewhat cryptic, it certainly anticipates the arrival of a new figure.
In conclusion, the message conveyed by the Pentateuch aligns with the New Testament’s depiction of the constituents that form Christian identity. Through its unique literary, rhetorical features and compositional strategy, the Pentateuch holds valuable insights for contemporary discussions on Christian identity. The paper consummates the Pentateuch’s contribution to shaping Christian identity as follows: the readers should live a life of faith, anticipating the realization of the new covenant and the coming of the Messiah.

5 thoughts on “Shaping Christian Identity through the Pentateuch: Reading the Pentateuch Christianly”

  1. I was a little nervous when I
    I was a little nervous when I saw the title, but the paper itself seems to offer a theological reading of the Pentateuch as a work in its own terms.

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  2. This strikes me as more
    This strikes me as more theological than most of our submissions. I think it’s a nice fit. Abstract sounds great; we’ll see if the paper can really deliver what it wants to.

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  3. too much of a bit of everything
    The paper seems to try to prove too much with all that it says it will do. Might have potential. Though it is said that the OT will speak for itself, the outcomes seem predetermined by the NT.

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  4. NT impositions
    I find this paper similar to Sailhamer’s approach to the Pentateuch which seems too perfectly fit for a NT reading (Abraham figure of faith, Moses figure of law) or at least a Lutheran reading of the NT. It would be a nice paper in our emphasis on law this year, but I fear there is too much going on and some presuppositions that are “found” in the Pentateuch.

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