I. Creation and the Exodus
Creation, Adam's Fall, Noah and the Flood, Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.
Redemption from Egypt, Revelation of the Covenant.
The Holiness of God
Approaching God and Maintaining Fellowship with God.
Grumbling from Sinai to Kadish, Desert Wanderings, Anticipation of entry into Promised Land
The Law Renewed
Covenant Renewal in preparation for entering Promised Land
These five books are called the Torah (Hebrew for Law) or the Pentateuch (Greek for Five Books). They were written by Moses, probably during the time of the desert wanderings, approximately 1446-1400 BC. They are the most holy of the Hebrew Scriptures, and form the basis for both Judism and Christianity. Each title above will lead to further detail on each book.
Relation to Whole Bible
Moses describes events from the creation of the world until the time God called the Nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. The contract or covenant that God established with Israel is the foundation for understanding the rest of the Bible.
This covenant, stated clearly in Deuteronomy, is the measure of the rest of Old Testament history - would Israel keep their side of the bargain? and would God be faithful? The New Testament or Covenant describes a new contract which would supersede the Old Testament or Covenant.
'Bible believers' accept Moses as the author, and that he is describing events which really happened in human history. 'Liberals', including many scholars and church leaders, usually accept an explanation of these books being a development over time, and including Jewish myths. They attribute the high moral standards of these books to the 'unique religious genius of the Jewish people' rather than as a direct revelation from God. Perhaps this can be stated as a question - "Was Jonah really swallowed by a whale (or large fish), or was it a myth intended to teach a religious lesson?" I answer that it really happened, but many 'liberals' (religious liberals, not political ones) answer that it is a myth, not historically true, which gives a true religious moral.
Considerations for Interpretation
Read these events as historically true. Put yourself in their time, understanding that they did not have the 'whole' knowledge of God that we have today. For instance, they did not have the teachings of Jesus. The revelation starts in Genesis and builds through the whole Bible.
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Updated March 2012