The Pentateuch, in the Core Biblical Studies series, introduces the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It combines a purely literary approach to reading the final form of the Pentateuch with a historical reading of the text. The literary approach emphasizes the structural role played by the so-called toledoth (generations) formulae that trace the history of humankind from Adam, through the ancestors of Israel, and finally to Moses and Aaron as the founders of Israel’s priesthood. The historical reading of the text challenges the older model of source analysis to argue instead for a model that traces the composition of the Pentateuch from its origins in northern Israel during the 9th-8th centuries B.C.E., (E), through its subsequent editions in Judah during the 8th-7th centuries B.C.E,. (J and D), and finally through the final redaction in the Persian period, (P).
Discussion throughout the volume focuses on how the text presents the origins or early history of Israel and its ideals or how it employs narrative and law to provide the foundations for an ideal national and religious identity.
The volume concludes with a brief treatment of how the Pentateuch is read in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.