Late last year, Mark Driscoll announced through Facebook the publication of John Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch (IVP Academic, 2009) with a special appeal to "hardcore uber geek theological types who love footnotes." But his friend and fellow pastor John Piper took issue with Driscoll's suggestion that only a nerdy remnant would appreciate the book.
"To all pastors and serious readers of the Old Testament—geek, uber geek, under geek, no geek—if you graduated from high school and know the word meaning, sell your latest Piper or Driscoll book and buy Sailhamer," Piper blogged. "There is nothing like it. It will rock your world. You will never read the Pentateuch the same again. It is totally readable. You can skip all the footnotes and not miss a beat."
Backed by these endorsements, Sailhamer's 610-page tome on the Bible's first five books briefly broke into the top 100 in Amazon.com's sales rankings. CT editor at large Collin Hansen interviewed Sailhamer, Old Testament professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, about his newest book, biblical criticism, and finding meaning in the text of Scripture.
How do you explain the meaning of the Pentateuch to evangelicals who revere these foundational books but do not see their relevance?
Experience has taught me that we really have to want to understand the meaning of the Pentateuch before we see its relevance for our lives. I've been fortunate to have students who have kept me looking for answers about the meaning and relevance of this book. The old theologians used to speak of "the love for Scripture" as a sign of true faith in Christ. They would say, "We should read the Old Testament ...