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pentateuchJohn Piper on John Sailhamer’s just-published magnum opus, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (IVP, 2009):

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 "m e a n i n g," sell your latest Piper or Driscoll book and buy Sailhamer.

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.

Last week, when Piper got the book, he tweeted: “I feel like a greedy miser over a chest of gold.”

You can read the Introduction of the book online for free.
(“Pentateuch” is the name for the first five books of the Bible: Genesis-Deuteronomy.)

Update: It’s currently ranked #118 at Amazon! I’m sure Amazon didn’t see that one coming….

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20 thoughts on “Piper: Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch Will Rock Your World”

  1. Tim V-B says:

    I’ve not read this book but I’d always recommend Sailhamer. His one-volume commentary on the Pentateuch, “The Pentateuch as Narrative” is excellent for the way he ignores all the boring issues of how such-and-such relates to what Prof. So-and-so says about ancient Mesopotamia, and focuses instead on the text and story. A preacher’s treasure-trove which will leave you looking forward to preaching each passage!

    1. Mike Francis says:

      Amen! Dan Reid first introduced me to this book way back in the early 90’s and I’ve loved it ever since. Can’t wait to see this new work.

  2. Jonathan P says:



    Some former Sailhamer students will start blogging through the book around Thanksgiving.

    Andy Witt also gives the cool story about the group of students who went in and got Dr. Sailhamer the Rembrandt painting on the cover of the book.

    You can check it out at Andy’s blog>

    1. Rachael Starke says:

      Jonathan –

      I had to click to that story right away because the way your comment read, I thought it meant that they had gotten together to buy him the original!!! Was trying to figure out the math on how many seminary students it would take to buy a multi-million dollar painting… :) Does anyone know where the original lives?

      1. Jonathan P says:

        Haha:) Sorry about that! The original was not my ‘intention.’ And it’s my fault, not your comment exegesis!

  3. Dan Phillips says:

    I had me some Hebrew with Sailhamer. Terrific teacher.

  4. Sailhamer is crucial to the OT theology discussion.

    Finally someone who employs a fundamental sola-scriptura approach!

    His books are treasures.

    1. Chris M says:

      Sailhamer is an incredible teacher, but an even better thinker. Who else puts up the Pentateuch on his office walls to find verbal connections and trace seams of thought.

      I am still waiting for the purported volume two of his work. I had “Meaning” on pre-order since this summer. His discussion on Ex 19 is great in there and man oh man the connections he finds.

      Garrett, how you doing man. Its hilarious to see you on the web… how is ole DC

  5. paul sailhamer says:

    The original is in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. It is currently on a special tour of Museums in the States.

    1. Dan Phillips says:

      That would be The Code of Sailhamabi, Paul?


    2. Rachael Starke says:

      Oh my goodness!!! That’s my original home town – I’ve been in that museum many times.

  6. Oh man, I had no idea that this was coming out. I have read “The Pentateuch as Narrative” a bunch. The pages are falling out. I also had Dr. Sailhamer for Hebrew and some exegesis classes. Best professor I ever had…and I had some great professors.

    My only problem with this is that, if everyone gets a copy, they will know where I stole everything from.

  7. Andrew says:

    Not bashing…know nothing of Sailhamer…just a question. What is his theological framework for the bible as a whole …covenant, dispensational, progressive dispensational, “new covenant”, or something else? Thanks.

    1. Chris F says:

      Something else, he is a canonical theologian.

  8. mikeintexas says:

    Well its 2 am and i have been reading the first 49 sample pages for the last 3 1/2 hours and i can only say wow! You’re rite brother Piper – a book full of treasure! Really helping me put many Biblical fragments in my mind together. What an amazing book the Bible is! How great is the leading of the Spirit! Of the 49 pages i have read so far i have 20 pages of notes. Sweet!

  9. casey says:

    Just read the 50 pg. introduction and couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure what I think about his conclusions but I guess I’de have to read the whole book to make a good judgment. Certainly some of his support in the intro was convincing…but some I ned to read the rest of the book to decide.

    I guess the think that is most striking to me about his position is that he would interpret the purpose of the Pentateuch in a way diametrically opposed to classical Judaism in many ways…at least as far as I understand it.

    That would be, Classical Judaism sees the Pentateuch extolling the Law as wonderful and the point to encourage Jews to follow it as closely as possible fo their covenantal reltionship with God. Sailhammer’s view, though, is that the canonical Pentateuch (which could be subtlely different from the original Mosaic Pentateuch in important ways), shows that most of the Mosaic Law is a failure and undesirable in terms of basing a covenantal relationship with God on. I have never thought of it from Sailhammer’s way before and really want to dive into this.

    Sometimes I wonder, though, if we Protestant scholars try to read too much into the text…try to make connections and see parallels that aren’t necessarily there. I can’t accuse Sailhammer of that without considering his arguments and evidence though.

    1. Chris Fauerso says:

      Sailhamer does not read into the texts, rather he finds where Scripture uses Scripture. He demonstrates very well how the prophets as well as new testament authors were reading and interpreting scripture.

  10. Susan says:

    My list of potential book-buys keeps getting longer and longer

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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