A tale of two Pentateuchs: Christian appropriation of Israel’s imperial constitution

Scribes of the Kingdom

In the columns below I’ve juxtaposed summaries of the Pentateuchal books as they are understood by two divergent hermeneutical models—the one christological, the other political.

The former model, on the one hand, interprets Israel’s founding documents so as to corroborate the Christian divine-savior myth—a psycho-religious system according to which humans attain personal otherworldly salvation through the sacrificial death of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth.

The latter model, on the other hand, views these same writings as the manifesto of ancient Israel’s great-nation myth—a political-religious hope according to which God works in history to subjugate the pagan nations to the “great nation” once pledged to the Patriarchs.

As we compare these two Pentateuchs notice how each frames the fundamental problem with the world. For the Christological approach, that problem is personal sin and its fatal consequences for the individual—a problem solved by faith in Christ’s atoning death. For the…

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