New Books Day, pt 2

Received a few more books in the mail.

  • John and Charles Wesley: Select Writings and Hymns by John and Charles Wesley, ed. by Frank Whaling (Historical IV: Modern Church)
  • The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life ed. by Christian Smith (Historical IV: Modern Church)
  • The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation by John H. Sailhamer

Now, I started reading the last book (The Meaning of the Pentateuch) to get ahead for my upcoming classes (yes, I am that kind of person) and I sadly must say that I’ve found it very frustrating (at that’s only the first 20 pages!). First, I think I’ve been a bit tainted by The Biblical Canon by Lee Martin McDonald (see my review).

Second, he’s made some rather bold and unsupported claims already such as his insistence that prophecy stopped after Malachi or the three-fold division of the OT (Tanak) which isn’t well supported by literary reference or manuscript evidence until after the time of Christ (I’m taking this from McDonald). I know many people think that prophecy ceased after Malachi, but he doesn’t defend it at all. I’m not saying he needs to argue every little assertion, but when your assertion is the basis upon which you are making an argument, you better be able to support your premises.

Third, he assumes the almost complete unitary composition of the Pentateuch only admitting that the last chapters of Deuteronomy were added later. Otherwise, the “book of the law” which Joshua received from Moses (Josh. 1:8) was exactly how we have it today (I think, though I’m not sure what he was really saying at this point).

Fourth, he contends that the “final author” (I’m not sure who this is) wrote the Pentateuch to show how the life lived by faith is superior to the Law and had essentially the same view as Paul in Galatians.

However, while these things are frustrating me, I have appreciated the way he describes his method, which is basically scientific. Present an hypothesis (he calls it a “big idea”) and the one which explains the most evidence the best is probably right. I have already been thinking about this type of method if I ever get around to my series on “Theological Method,” so it’s exciting to see someone else employing it. I look forward to seeing if he can substantiate any of his claims, though I already fear that he has flattened out the Bible so that what Paul says is what the author of the Pentateuch always meant.

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