Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a unique account of the first five books of the Bible, describing how Jews and Christians ritualize the Pentateuch as a scripture by interpreting it, by performing its text and contents, and by venerating the physical scroll and book.
Pentateuchal studies are known for intense focus on questions of how and when the first five books of the Bible were composed, edited, and canonized as scripture. Rather than such purely historical, literary, or theological approaches, the author organizes this description of the Pentateuch from the perspectives of comparative scriptures and religious studies. He describes how the Pentateuch has been used in the centuries since it began to function as a scripture in the time of Ezra, and the origins of its ritualization before that time. The book:
- Analyzes the semantic contents of the Pentateuch as oral rhetoric that takes the form of stories followed by lists of laws and sanctions
- Gives equal space to its ritualization in the iconic and performative dimensions as to its semantic interpretation
- Fully integrates the cultural history of the Pentateuch and Bible with its influence on Jewish and Christian ritual, and in art, music, theatre, and film
Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a groundbreaking work that highlights new research data and organizes the material to focus attention on the Pentateuch's — and Bible's — function as a scripture.