Waiting for the Land: The Story Line of the Pentateuch  -     By: Arie C. Leder
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Waiting for the Land: The Story Line of the Pentateuch

P & R Publishing / 2010 / Paperback

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Product Description

Although the Pentateuch is not a novel, it would behelpfully read as such: a story of a problem, one thatplaces readers into its plot structure and provides aresolution. Such a reading would disclose a beginning,middle and ending, from before Sinai, through Israelnot entering the promised land, to an unsatisfying resolution!(although Joshua continues the story with greatpromise) - all ends badly in Kings.

The Genesis-Kings story begins and ends with exile.We too, are waiting for a promised land, we too are inexile. Arie Leder gives us insights into the big story ofexile and reconciliation that flows throughout the Bible.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: P & R Publishing
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.38 (inches)
ISBN: 0875521967
ISBN-13: 9780875521961
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Leder demonstrates how the Israelites’ waiting for their Promised Land should reshape our reading of the Pentateuch as a coherent and progressive story and should affect how we wait for heaven—our own future hope.

Author Bio

Arie C. Leder is Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor in Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has also been both a pastor and missionary; his passion is to show how the Old Testament informs Reformed theology. He is married with four children and continues to be active in mission, outreach and Bible study among Hispanics.

Editorial Reviews

NOT YET EDITED. recd 3-16-10 MP With theological and literary sensitivity, Arie Leder has set forth a coherent reading of Torah that is of great value for any Christian teacher or student. Carefully researched and clearly written, this study shows how the story is crafted to inculcate habits of wisdom and true worship in the people of God. In addition, it sheds light on the complex way the biblical texts bears on contemporary ethical discernment about land tenure and the political struggle for justice.
"A solid contribution to our understanding of land theology from a biblical theological, redemptive historical perspective. Sensitive to narrative theology, Leder tells the Bible's story of the land, engaging both the reader's mind and his heart, as it relates to our ultimate hope for the divine presence. Readers will be challenged both theologically and ethically."
(Please inform endorser if any changes are made prior to publication) "I benefitted from reading this book to such a degree that I am changing some of my lectures on the Pentateuch. Although I did not agree with all of Arie Leder’s constructions in Waiting for the Land, it is a stimulating literary analysis of the narrative of the Pentateuch and deserves to be read by all Christians who love the organic unity of the Scriptures and a Christian understanding of the Old Testament. Leder helps us see the forest from the trees by demonstrating that the thrust of the Pentateuch is about how each of the first five books of our Bible shows that anticipation of God’s presence in the land is a major thrust of this foundational part of our Bible."
"Leder has written a fine book about the narrative flow of the Pentateuch as a whole, taking seriously the canonical shape and theological message of this foundational part of the entire Bible. Drawing on contemporary narrative theory and a firm commitment to the integrity and religious relevance of the books of Moses, he combines in a refreshing way scholarly interaction with the secondary literature, a high view of biblical authority, and new exegetical proposals. The result is a book which will be read with profit both by professional biblical scholars and preachers of the Word."
"An innovative approach focusing on the narrative, plot, scope, structure and consequently the theological themes emanating from this majestic work called the Pentateuch. Interesting perspectives are opened up enabling the reader to explore new meanings to a corpus of literature we thought we knew. The book highlights the importance of the divine presence, a situation of continuing exile and as a result of that a waiting for the land. The book is sensitive to both the detail of smaller units and the larger narrative frame of the whole of this majestic story told. The book is up to date with the scholarly debate and well-informed on narrative theory making it good reading for Old Testament scholars, students at theological institutions and pastors in local congregations."

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  1. St. Paul, MN
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Fascinating look at the Pentateuch
    October 14, 2011
    Bob Hayton
    St. Paul, MN
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Over the past few years I have fallen in love with the Pentateuch. I now see it as some of the richest theology in all of Scripture. So when I saw this book from P & R Publishing, its title and evocative cover had me hooked in no time flat. "Waiting for the Land: The Story Line of the Pentateuch" by Arie C. Leder did not disappoint. Instead old insights were crystallized and new gems were discovered as I paged through this wonderful book.

    My copy of this book is so dog-eared and underlined that for a long time I've hesitated to write this review. I know I won't be able to say everything I want to about this book, or share every insight that I gained through reading it. I almost want to read the book again right now, as I prepare to finish this review!

    What Leder does in this book is to look at the Pentateuch as a whole, and to find the big picture behind it. He analyzes each part and applies the insights of a variety of scholars, yet maintains an evangelical approach throughout. He unpacks the power of narrative and then provides detailed analyses of the structure of each of the Pentateuch's five books. He argues that the Pentateuch is the ultimate cliff-hanger. The final editors of the Pentateuch know the ultimate ending (as recorded in Joshua), yet they deny the reader the benefit of seeing the end. Like Moses, we are left on a hill overlooking the promised land. And this is an intentional part of the book. Israel is "waiting for the land", and this waiting continues down to today. Leder argues, and I agree, that this waiting shaped Israel's experience of the land itself, and shapes how the church views its own wilderness pilgrimage.

    The Narrative Structure of the Pentateuch

    The narrative problem of the Pentateuch, as expressed by Arie Leder, is that Israel refused Divine Instruction and was thus exiled. Therefore, the message of the Pentateuch as we find it in its canonical form, speaks directly to the Jewish people post-exile. The structure of the Pentateuch is one gigantic chiasm. Genesis stands opposed to Deuteronomy, each dealing with the separation of Israel from the nations, blessing, seeing the land (but not permanently dwelling in it) and promises concerning descendants and the land. Exodus and Numbers both detail Israel's desert journeys, describe apostasy and plagues, have a role for magicians (Pharaoh's magicians and Balaam), and discuss the first-born and Levites' dedication to God. Then Leviticus is the crux, dealing with sacrifices, cleanliness and holiness. The center of Leviticus is the Day of Atonement, and since all of the Pentateuch is about how to live life in God's presence in the land of promise, it is interesting to note how central a redemptive sacrifice is to it all.

    Central to the Pentateuch is the role of fellowship with God, and building projects. God builds the world to be the place of fellowship, but this is marred by sin. Then mankind rebels and builds a tower for their own fellowship apart from God's presence. Ironically the Israelites are forced to build the towers of Egypt, but end up voluntarily building a tabernacle for the LORD. This tabernacle allows God to dwell in Israel, albeit with barriers to separate His holiness from their sin. God is the one who undoes what man had done: God initiates this building project, and ultimately no temple will be needed as God will finally dwell with his people (of all ethnicities) in the new Jerusalem, where the Lamb is the temple.

    Divine Presence and the Promised Land

    Leder argues that the Divine presence is the defining characteristic of the promised land, and that all too often this is forgotten in discussions of the nature of the promised land. The church is to be viewed as God's desert people today, as Hebrews 3 and 4 intimate. Leder explains:

    "Israel's desert transition from Egypt to Sinai defines how believers at all stages of sanctification wait for the land: not in triumphal transformation of the desert, but in the regular testing of a rebellious heart and the experience of God's surprising provision of daily sustenance." (pg. 198-199)

    "Israel foreshadows the body of Christ as the temple of God, in which each member is a living, priestly stone (1 Peter 2:5, 9; cf. Ex. 19:5)." (pg. 201)

    "The desert is not only an historico-geographical reality but also a theological reality, one that teaches Israel not to think of herself as a landed people, for no earthly soil can produce the fruit of righteousness." (pg. 203)


    "...Jesus completes the desert journey for his people. With his ascension he brings them into the intimate presence of God (Heb. 10:19), from where he pours out the Holy Spirit to indwell the body of Christ, the church, God's temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) on earth. Thus indwelt, the church of Jesus Christ awaits a promised future: not land to cultivate, but rest from her work just as God rested from his (Heb. 4:6-11), a full rest in God's presence for all who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 21)." (pg. 204)

    "Separated from earthly cultures and ethnicities, and in transition to the heavenly city, God's people will suffer a constant uprooting from the soils of their past and will be eager for enduring instruction in righteous cultivation of the fruit that produces holy distraction from the world and its interests." (pg. 205)

    I could go on offering quote after quote, but you'll have to get the book and read it for yourself.

    Replacement Theology?

    Some may take issue with supposed "replacement theology" here. But such is not the case. He sees the church as the ultimate fulfillment of believing Israel, not a replacement of it. Furthermore, the argument is directly tied to and springs from the text itself. Since the Pentateuch itself was concerned with the presence of God more so than mere land, the New Testament's claims about God's presence and the church are rightly seen as an outgrowth of this native OT concern. Even if you disagree with some of Leder's theology, studying this book will prove immensely rewarding as time and again he focuses us on the power of the text.

    I devoured this book and I expect you will too. It's written in an accessible and clear way, with many helpful charts and diagrams. You will be blown away by the connections Leder finds throughout the Pentateuch, so you'll want to take notes. Perhaps after reading this book, you too will fall in love with the Pentateuch anew.

    Disclaimer: This book was provided by P & R Publishing for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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