I recently bought Arie Leder’s Waiting for the Land: The Story Line of the Pentateuch and am very much enjoying working through his presentation. After surveying how different communities (of note the secular academic guild) have treated the book of the Pentateuch, Leder gives voice to what a “churchly” reading looks like:
This churchly reading [of the Pentateuch], clear to any seventeenth-century Christian, was not academically naive. An examination of exegetical works such as Henry Ainsworth’s Annotations on the Pentateuch and the Psalms discloses that the authors were acutely aware of historical distance and linguistic, textual, and hermeneutical issues. Nevertheless, they do not treat the text as an historical antiquity, but as Christian Scripture, an ancient text that is theologically transparent to the readers of the Dutch Annotations [by Theodore Haak]. This is clear from the language typical of the Christian theological tradition: God created “all things visible and invisible,” he did so “through the word, out of nothing,” and he endowed man “with the image of God.” Although ancient, these depicted historical events speak eternal truths to present realities: the church, its public worship and sound doctrine, temporal as well as eternal blessings, and punishment for behavior not consonant with God’s law; above all, they point to the Messiah.
Central to this reading of the Pentateuch is the pure doctrine by which God shapes his people in worship and conduct, and the hope represented by Jesus Christ, the prophet greater than Moses, who discloses the fullness of God’s will, and who mediates between God and the people awaiting the fullness of divine promises. Christ, who comes from the Father, shapes that waiting with his instructions. A Christian reading holds Christ to be the scope of the Pentateuch. This reading comports with the Pentateuch’s scope: divine instruction for God’s people, delivered centrally at Sinai in the Lord’s presence, for the shaping of a people of his own selection. Even as the voice of the Lord through Moses is central to the Pentateuch, so the incarnate voice of God in Jesus Christ is central to the gospel (Matt. 17:5).
R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)