The first five books of the Old Testament form a complete literary unit called the Pentateuch, meaning “five scrolls.” They form a seamless narrative from Creation to the death of Moses. These writings are in historical sequence, with each succeeding book beginning where the previous book stops. The narrative is foundational in the formation of the people of God and the redemptive plan of God progressing toward a future Messiah. This was Israel’s first inspired and authoritative body of God’s written revelation; it is also called the Torah or the Law. Moses was the author. It is important to understand the following concepts when reading these books of Scripture:
- It is good to know that the chronological flow is built in to these writings. This is not the case in vast areas of the Bible.
- As in any of the genres of Scripture, it is important that you acclimate to the various aspects of context (time period, geography, culture, authority structures, etc.). This cannot be accomplished all at once.
- Start to notice the sequence and the implications of major events (Creation, the Fall of Man, the Flood, the Passover, etc.).
- Pay close attention to people and places and to the Hebrew meanings of each. Their meanings hold more significance here than in any other section of Scripture.
- Begin to grasp the larger concepts of covenants, the ten commands, the tabernacle, the priesthood, offerings, and the feasts of Israel. As you travel these paths over a lifetime, you will discover connections in the revelation, coherence in your life, and you will intimately comprehend them as facets of a relationship with the living God.
Next time…How to read the genre of books of the Old Testament known as History.