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Summary of The Pentateuch (From SOURCES GIVEN by me) - Essay Example

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The Pentateuch is the collective name for the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and recounts the history of the world from creation to the death of Moses. The traditional Hebrew translation of the word Pentateuch is "law", and there is a large amount of law contained in the books (excluding Genesis)…
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Download file to see previous pages These instructions are less explicit than the law sections of the books, and as such are open to interpretation.
Despite the fact that these first five books of the Bible are known as the "five books of Moses", he is not considered the sole author. This label is more of a Jewish tradition; however the sections which are considered by Biblical scholars to be the oldest are also thought to have been authored by Moses. These sections include Exodus 21-23, the "Book of the Covenant" (Exodus 24-28), Numbers 33, Deuteronomy 5-21, and the Ten Commandments. Overall, it may be more accurate to say that the creation of the Pentateuch was inspired by Moses rather than it actually having been written by him.
The Pentateuch is thought to be a compilation of documents created at different times in the history of the Israelites. The Pentateuch as it is known today was not compiled earlier than the fifth century B.C.E. There are a number of opinions concerning the date of origin of Pentateuch documents; the most widely accepted of these was formulated by Julius Wellhausen in the nineteenth century. According to this theory, a document known as "J" (Jahwist) is the oldest known written source, written in the ninth century B.C.E. The "E" document (Elohist) was written in the eighth century, and these two sources were edited into one in the seventh century. Deuteronomy dates from 621 B.C.E. and was added in the sixth century. Around 400 B.C.E., the last document, known as the Priestly Work, was added. Alternative theories include the possibility that the J document is actually the youngest of the four rather than the oldest.
Recent work has developed theories on the intent of the authors of these works. Overall, it is thought that the main intent was to use their presentations of Israel's traditional history to convey important messages. For example, the Jahwist document addresses the "age of Solomon" and urges Israelites to live in accordance with the commands of Abraham of Genesis. The Elohist document urges Israelites to shun foreign cults, the book of Deuteronomy emphasizes the importance of the unity of Israel, and the Priestly Work emphasizes the authenticity of Israel's religious and cultural traditions.
Another analytical technique is a "form-critical" approach which examines the literary forms (for example moral story, saga, or tale) of the books to determine their role in every day life. This approach reconstructs the historical background in which the documents were written. An analysis by Martin Noth detected five major themes of the Pentateuch: God's promise to the Israelites, their exodus from Egypt, their time spent in the wilderness, the giving of God's law, and His guidance in the Israelites new land.
A third technique which examines oral composition and transmission of the Pentateuch writings questions the idea of the Pentateuch as a primarily written document. The book of Genesis can be seen as an oral composition which reflects several different influences (due to differences in representation and small discrepancies in detail).
Themes
The last four books of the Pentateuch, which follow Moses from birth to death, are part of a strong narrative theme. However, to regard the Pentateuch as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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