Kevin Chen: The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch

@deuteroKJ and @jongarvey, what are your thoughts on this book?

Don’t know the book or the author, Josh, but he’s building on the same foundations I am in Generations, in the form of John Sailhamer. Sailhamer’s not alone, though - Greg Beale’s magnum opus on NY Biblical Theology takes the same line, and Seth Postell also derives the idea from Sailhamer.

Personally I think that “Messiah in the Pentateuch” is another of those natural conclusions, once one changes the perspective by jettisoning the history of religions approach to OT theology, and the “evolution through sources” approach that goes with it.

N T Wright seems to have a similar idea - of course, it rather depends on a strong doctrine of inspiration, since it would be too much of a fluke for Israelites seeing the weakness of the Mosaic covenant (very much the Sailhamer view of the Pentateuch) to hit on the hope of a Messiah purely through human reasoning.

Looks worth reading.

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Part of why I am curious is that this title is currently bundled with the GAE in the IVP series on theological anthropology:

This series also includes:

I know of Greg Beale, but do you know Benjamin Gladd?

Bold claim! I want to understand.

No - ignorant, me.

I didn’t think it was that bold.

The basic idea in this stream is that the (final) author of the Pentateuch, which describes God’s call of Israel from captivity to the borders of the promised land, saw that they would (and already had) failed in their mission, through unbelief. This belies the superfical appearance that the Pentateuch is about a new beginning, rather than the beginning of the end and disillusion.

From that position, veiled in various prophetic episodes and sayings, as detailed by Sailhamer and so on, the writer anticipates that Yahweh’s response to Israel’s faithlessness will be through progressive national decline ending in exile; yet not finally, for he will raise up a king from the tribe of Judah who will save the nation not only for a while, but forever, to make them once more God’s holy people.

I (and others) argue that this figure is seen as a new Adam, auguring in a whole new creation and an end to human evil, having an altogether surprising universal, rather than merely national, application. That alone flies in the face of the previous understaning: “national gods -> national God -> national gospel -> application to Gentiles as afterthought when gospel rejected by Jewish nation.”

All of these “hints and allegations” find their surprising fulfilment in Christ many centuries later. That’s a whole bunch of counter-intuitive expectations to be gathered together (and maintained, we argue, through the rest of the OT canon) by a purely human process… even more so, of course, when the book itself claims at many points to embody the dabar (the effectual word) of the Lord.

This is especially true since, whilst it appears to be inherent in the text, it was not the set of expectations of mainstream second temple Hebrew religion, which accords with the NT’s assertion at various places that the plan was a “mystery” finally revealed by God in Christ.

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