Handbook On The Pentateuch, 2nd Edition

For more than twenty years, Victor Hamilton's handbook has been introducing students to the Pentateuch. In this substantially revised second edition,...
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Author: Victor P. Hamilton
Publisher: Baker Academic

For more than twenty years, Victor Hamilton's handbook has been introducing students to the Pentateuch. In this substantially revised second edition, Hamilton moves chapter by chapter through the Pentateuch, examining the content, structure, and theology. He surveys each major thematic unit of the Pentateuch and offers useful commentary on overarching themes and connections between Old Testament texts. For those who wish to do additional research, each chapter is appended with a bibliography of recent, relevant scholarship.


Preface to the Second EditionPreface to the First EditionPart 1: Genesis1. Creation and the Fall (1-3)2. The Sequence after Creation and the Fall (4-11)3. Abraham (11:26-25:11)4. Jacob (25:11-36:42)5. Joseph (37-50)Part 2: Exodus6. The Emergence of Moses (1-6)7. Plagues, Passover, and the Exodus (7:1-15:21)8. Testing in the Wilderness (15:22-18:27)9. Law and Covenant (19-24)10. Tabernacle, the Golden Calf, and Covenant Renewal (25-40)Part 3: Leviticus11. The Sacrificial System (1-7)12. Priestly Ordination (8-10)13. Clean and Unclean (11-15)14. The Day of Atonement (16)15. A Holiness Manifesto (17-27)Part 4: Numbers16. Preparations for Departure from Sinai (1:1-10:10)17. From Sinai to Kadesh (10:11-20:21)18. From Kadesh to Moab (20:22-36:13)Part 5: Deuteronomy19. Remember the Past (1:1-4:40)20. Be Careful in the Future (4:41-11:32)21. The Laws of Deuteronomy (12-26)22. Blessings and Curses (27-30)23. Moses' Farewell (31-34)Index


'The strengths of Hamilton's revised Handbook on the Pentateuch include its balanced attention to all five books of the Pentateuch, helpful and updated bibliographies, fair-minded exposure to critical debates and competing viewpoints, sustained attention to theological themes and insights, and a clear and readable style. The book functions as a substantive one-volume commentary on the Pentateuch written from a moderate and informed evangelical perspective.'

Dennis Olson, professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

'It is a pleasure to recommend this work as an excellent introduction to the first five books of the Bible. Its sensitivity to the literary structures and emphases in the texts as well as its full awareness of classic and contemporary exegetical issues and scholarship provide an essential tool for introducing students and all interested readers to the fascinating world of the Pentateuch. Scholars in the field will also benefit from Hamilton's presentation of new and original ideas and up-to-date bibliographies.'

Richard S. Hess, professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary

'Hamilton has produced a second edition that is even more helpful for present and future generations of Bible students than the first edition. He has succeeded by revising and expanding the first edition with new insights garnered from biblical scholarship at large and from his own study as a biblical commentator and college teacher. The second edition maintains the original's strengths of succinctness without vagueness and simplicity without simplemindedness. The book is brimming with information that exhibits the proper balance of comments on ancient backgrounds, critical theories, and the biblical text.'

Kenneth A. Mathews, professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

'The second edition of Hamilton's Handbook on the Pentateuch follows in the tradition of the first. It is not simply a rehearsal of biblical content but offers concise and scholarly summaries and articulations of modern scholarship on the Pentateuch, while also offering well-crafted, traditional, evangelical positions on many difficult issues that confront readers of the Pentateuch. The updated bibliographies are remarkable and provide valuable guidance to college and seminary students as they begin their own research. The format is pleasing, with many subsections that guide the reader along. Numerous tables and an index complete what will certainly prove to be a valuable reference and research tool.'

Peter Enns, Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies, Eastern University

'Hamilton achieves with apparent ease what so many only attempt. He unites historical study with literary insight; he integrates diachronic critical concerns with synchronic, structurally sensitive insights; and he deftly places his own fresh reading of the texts in conversation with an astonishing range of scholarly literature that represents the full spectrum of research on the Pentateuch. All this is done within a sound theological framework that allows the text to be heard naturally as a rule of faith for the church.'

Lawson Stone, professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

'Hamilton's Handbook on the Pentateuch provides an easily accessible and highly informative guide to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. Drawing on the best of modern scholarship, this handbook explores these major biblical writings in a manner that is both thorough and in keeping with their status as divine revelation. Amid the plethora of conflicting views expressed about the origins and contents of the Pentateuch, Hamilton offers a balanced and sane analysis, supplemented with up-to-date bibliographies.'

T. Desmond Alexander, director of Christian training, Union Theological College, Belfast

Praise for the first edition

'Admirably serves the interests of evangelicals beginning an academic study of the Pentateuch. More advanced students would find its bibliographies useful. If you fall into either of these categories, I heartily commend its purchase.'

Gordon Wenham, tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College Bristol

The Author

  1. Victor P. Hamilton

    Victor P. Hamilton

    Victor P. Hamilton (PhD, Brandeis University), now retired, was professor of Bible and theology at Asbury University for more than thirty-five years. He is the author of major commentaries on Genesis and Exodus as well as Handbook on the Historical Books.

    Continue readingabout Victor P. Hamilton


Reviews of the second edition

'This second edition of a 1982 book is really a revision. Influenced by the new understanding and insights gleaned from years of his own teaching, Hamilton has rewritten many sections of the original book and added to and revised others. The bibliographies that follow each chapter have also been updated. . . . The book is not a commentary, but a kind of introduction to the Pentateuch, addressing literary, historical, and theological issues. It will be helpful for its targeted audience.'

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

'In the new edition of this very helpful book, Hamilton offers an expanded and revised treatment of the Pentateuch. . . . Hamilton is a clear writer who makes numerous helpful observations, noticing key structural features and dealing with controversial issues throughout the Pentateuch. He is succinct without being vague. . . . His work will enhance any reader's understanding of and appreciation for the message of the Pentateuch. The bibliographies at the end of each section are significantly expanded with references to works published since the first edition. The new edition includes a helpful subject index. . . . Even if a person owns the first edition, this volume would be a welcome addition to someone's library.'

Michael A. Grisanti,

Master's Seminary Journal

'Hamilton claims that this second edition is substantially revised. . . . Updating bibliographies and footnotes is a common feature of second editions. But it can be said that Hamilton truly 'substantially' updates the bibliographies in the Handbook. . . . The second edition benefits from the maturing development of [Hamilton's] thoughts and interaction with the text of the Pentateuch over twenty-some years since the publication of the first edition. This is also helpful for the reader because the second edition of the Handbook, like that of the first, remains more a reflection on the purpose and meaning of the text of the Pentateuch than a regurgitation of scholarly 'who said what.'. . . The second edition, like the first, continues to be an excellent exposition. . . . The Handbook remains an excellent tool for introducing the Pentateuch to students and interested readers. This book will be a first-rate purchase for the library of anyone who desires not only to be a scholar of God's Word, but also a proclaimer of that Word.'

Stephen J. Andrews,

Midwestern Journal of Theology

Reviews of the first edition

'A work that again and again treats the important theological questions of the Pentateuch. . . . Hamilton frequently uses the methods and results of structural analysis and (especially) rhetorical criticism unique contributions and particular strengths of the book. . . . Hamilton's is one of the first books from an evangelical pen to systematically employ them on a popular level. . . .Teacher and student alike should find it especially helpful and welcome it heartily.'

David M. Howard Jr.,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

'The book's main contribution is the emphasis it places on the Pentateuch's message . . . . [Hamilton] develops many of the key themes and establishes many sound principles. . . . Although he is primarily concerned with the large overview, he does not ignore significant details. He provides examples of exegesis and includes charts and tables to illustrate . . . .For the serious student of the Pentateuch as well as the layman, this is a valuable source of reference.'

Michael P. V. Barrett,

Biblical Viewpoint

'The extended bibliographies at the end of each chapter are almost worth the price of the book alone, especially for anyone who is motivated to do a little further study. . . . As a supplement to detailed commentaries, Hamilton's 'handbook' is highly recommended.'

Horace D. Hummel,

Concordia Journal

'A book in its 18th printing since publication in 1982 has to have something going for it. Hamilton's book provides a very usable introduction to the serious study of the first five books of the Bible, and is widely used in Bible Colleges.'

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