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From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From the Back Cover
This new edition includes updated references and added material that reflect recent pentateuchal research as well as the author's refined judgments.
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
"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] 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
T. Desmond Alexander is Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Director of Post-Graduate Studies, Union Theological College, Belfast, and formerly lecturer in Semitic studies at The Queen's University in Belfast. He is the coeditor of the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is this story and the messages of the Pentateuch that Alexander then displays for his readers. Moving through the Pentateuch both historically and topically, the writer deals masterfully with the genealogies, the blessing and cursing in Eden, the nature and import of the Abrahamic Covenant, the significance of the Passover, the impact of the Covenant of Sinai both for Israel and for believers today, the implications of the tabernacle, the command to be holy, the significance and symbolism of the sacrificial system and dietary laws, the gift of the Promised Land, the reason why the murmuring of the people was so important to God, the Semitic view of the topics of love and loyalty as treated in the Pentateuch, and the question of the election of Israel. In all of these areas, Alexander carefully lays out the theology of the Pentateuch and then follows this up with a connection to the New Testament. It is in these New Testament connections, Alexander shows his true prowess as a biblical scholar.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this work for the student of the Pentateuch who is struggling to find the purpose and application of this most difficult, yet seminal, section of Scripture to his or her life in the 21st century.
Alexander says, "The present volumes seeks to (1) guide the reader through the maze of modern approaches to the Pentateuch, and (2) focus on the main themes of the Pentateuch, viewed as a unified literary work, by drawing on the best insights of recent research into Hebrew narrative techniques" (p xiii).
Part 1; Pentateuchal Criticism
Being an introduction, one should expect some discussion on Pentateuchal studies. Alexander spends six chapters going through the history of these studies, introducing the reader to source-, form-, Traditio-historical-, and literary-criticism, and bringing the reader's main focus to the Documentary Hypothesis.
While one should be aware (and probably expects) that these chapters are not an easy read, yet I actually found these first six chapters to be quite interesting, much more than I thought they would be. On the one hand, these chapters are quite detailed, showing the intricacies of PC and just what one would expect to find when sifting through scholarly work over the Pentateuch. Many (but not all!) large, scholarly works will be brimming with information on the legitimacy of the DH, and one should be aware of what they will find when they read those works.
Here Alexander does not side with the DH espousers, but shows criticisms against it and makes a good case (albiet a small case) against the DH.
Part 2; The Main Themes of the Pentateuch
This is where the book will become 'alive' for many readers. For though as interesting as reading about various criticisms and critiques of the Pentateuch may be, reading the very words Moses wrote is far more interesting (as it should be!). Here Alexander looks at a broad range of themes starting in Genesis and "ending" in Deuteronomy (they don't really 'end in Deuteronomy. The biblical authors pick up the themes and carry them on throughout the Old and New Testaments.
The Chocolate Milk
In looking at Pentateuchal themes, rather than being a collection of different sources, Alexander shows how the Pentateuch is a unified work and works that into the main themes of the Pentateuch. The final portion of each thematic chapter in Part 2 was the New Testament Connections section, which I always enjoyed reading. Alexander summarizes how a particular theme ('Be Holy') is seen in the NT and is fulfilled in some way in Jesus. What defiles a person is not what they eat, but what is inside of them (Mk 7.20-23).
The Spoiled Milk
One disappointment I had was that more of the Pentateuch wasn't covered. As important as the themes are (I never really thought much about a lot of the themes mentioned here and their impact on the Five Books of Moses), I think the name of the book may be a bit misleading. Perhaps I'm used to books like deSilva's An Introduction to the New Testament which looks at themes of the New Testament and summarizes each letter. While one book cannot do everything, I'm left wondering about much of what happens in the Genesis story after Abraham (though Alexander spends six chapters on Genesis, and does talk about Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph). Not to mention special laws in Leviticus (three chapters), or most of Deuteronomy (only two chapters are spent discussing this huge book).
The only criticism I have about the Old Testament Summary section was that it really wasn't a summary of how the theme is seen in the Old Testament, but more how it is seen either in that individual book ('Murmurings' in Numbers) or in the Pentateuch. Again, perhaps misnamed, but it seems like "Pentateuchal Summary" would be more apt.
[Special thanks to Trinity at Baker Publishing for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]
This is well worth the time & effort to really study, since the end of each chapter gives a N.T. connection with the Apostles & points on to Jesus the Christ.