Law – OBST 815

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

A study of select portions of the Pentateuch, including a treatment of introductory issues, hermeneutical principles regarding the narrative and legal genres, and a functional analysis of key interpretive issues in the study of Genesis through Deuteronomy. The course engages with current evangelical scholarship on critical issues that relate to the study of the Pentateuch. Special emphasis is placed on biblical theological motifs within the Pentateuch, and expositional strategies to integrate standard exegesis with biblical theological awareness.  


BIBL 700 and BIBL 715


The Old Testament Pentateuch (Law) is foundational to the Old Testament and sets the theological trajectory for redemption realized in the New Testament. Students pursuing the PhD in Bible Exposition must be conversant with issues in the study of the Pentateuch and should demonstrate an ability to integrate pentateuchal studies into the whole counsel of Scripture.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of critical issues related to the interpretation of the Pentateuch.
  2. Articulate major scholarly approaches for interpreting Genesis 1-11 and how these views interact with hermeneutical theory and practice.
  3. Incorporate relevant historical backgrounds into the interpretation of the Pentateuch.
  4. Identify recurring literary and theological themes in the narratives of the Pentateuch and their relationship to the overarching message of Scripture. 
  5. Demonstrate the ability to research and engage with critical interpretive issues in the Pentateuch and apply such research to the teaching/preaching context.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of theological meaning in the interpretation of the Pentateuch.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (5)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread of 1000–1200 words in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Additionally, students are expected to participate in robust dialog within the discussion forum, not simply replying to fellow students, but also responding to replies. Replies are to be 300–500 words. Each discussion has specific requirements as detailed in the discussion prompt.

The student will submit a Turabian/SBL style title page and bibliography reflecting preliminary work on their final research paper, along with a general outline of the paper. The purpose of this submission is to provide opportunity for faculty feedback and recommendations prior to the writing and submission of the final paper.

Research Paper

Building primarily on the reading of Sailhamer and Gane, students will write a 13 to 18 page research paper exploring the following questions: 1) How did the Old Testament Law function within the event space of ancient Israel; 2) How does the Old Testament Law function within the current theological and experiential life of the church; and 3) What is the meaning of the Pentateuch within the canon of Scripture, and how is that “meaning” determined? 

This paper is meant to be more than simply a review of Sailhamer and Gane, but it will necessarily depend heavily upon these readings and should reflect comprehension of these works. The expectation is that Sailhamer and Gane will both be cited heavily, but other sources should be used and cited appropriately. One does not need to agree with either titles in part or in whole, but smart interaction with these texts is a necessity. Furthermore, it is expected that the biblical text is utilized throughout the paper.

Although short of a biblical theology of the law, this paper should demonstrate biblical theological awareness and an ability to navigate interpretive issues related to the historical, literary, and theological functions of the law (as a part of the Pentateuch, as the Pentateuch, and as a part of the whole revelation of God).

Considerable flexibility is given as to the exact direction that this paper takes. The thought is that PhD students can take their own “track” in writing. However, students should answer the three stated questions within the paper, and provide a focus on functional interpretation.

Standard Turabian/SBL format is required for the paper. It is due mid-week (Wednesday, 11:59 PM) in module eight to allow time for grading and feedback. However, the expectation is that this paper develops throughout the time of the course, with focused writing taking place during modules 6 and 7.