The Prophet’s Authority
We can think of a couple reasons why the Pentateuch is called the Book of Moses. First of all, it is a book. And so there’s a very real sense that the Pentateuch is five books with their own unique message and outlook. But it’s also one book, kind of like The Lord of the Rings. It’s published in three books. Each of those three books has two books. The Fellowship of the Ring is books one and two of the larger story, and so on and so forth, all the way to the end. But The Lord of the Rings really is one book, and the Pentateuch has five books, but it’s also one book. It tells one story. It’s a coherent whole. So that’s one reason it’s called the singular book of Moses.
And the Moses part is significant, too, because it tells us that Moses is behind the Pentateuch in some way. And we’re not told all the details. We know he would’ve researched Genesis. He wasn’t there. And we also know that Deuteronomy records three long speeches by him. So we don’t know if a scribe recorded that or if he did later or how that all worked. But Moses is behind the Pentateuch, the authorship of the Pentateuch.
Now, there’s a passage at the very end of the Pentateuch in Deuteronomy 34:10–12—the last three verses of the entire Pentateuch—that tells us something about Moses. Here’s how it goes:
And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh knew face-to-face. None like him, for all the signs and the wonders that Yahweh sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Well, that tells us that Moses is the greatest prophet in the entire Old Testament. And if Moses is behind it, it lends a certain massive authority to it. So it’s a singular book, and also, Moses is ultimately the author, the one behind it. We should listen to it.
Ian J. Vaillancourt is the author of The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel.
If we are Christians who want to understand the gospel better, the Pentateuch is a great place to start.
If you look at the structure of the Pentateuch, we've got five books. Right in the middle is Leviticus. And what do we find right in the middle at the center of the center of the Pentateuch?
There are going to be two lineages, two seeds: one of the woman and one of the serpent. Ultimately, the seed of the serpent is going to bruise the heel of the seed of the woman.
Ian Vaillancourt talks about why the story of the exodus is so central to the Old Testament as a whole and how the story of Israel's rescue from Egypt pointed forward to the coming of Christ in more ways than one.