Introduction to the Pentateuch

A 5-part Video Lecture Series

Curated from a Lecture Series by Terry J. Betts

Course Introduction

About the Course

This course is a 5-part video lecture series provided freely by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as an excerpt of their 2-part graduate level Old Testament Survey course. In this course, Terry J. Betts introduces the Old Testament in general and the Pentateuch specifically. Each lecture is an average of 20 minutes long.

About Terry J. Betts

Terry J. Betts is a fourth generation Southern Baptist minister who has pastored 14 years in Ohio and Indiana. He has written Ezekiel the Priest: A Custodian of Tora. He contributed a chapter to The Challenge of the Great Commission and has written for Holman Bible Dictionary, The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, and The Tie. He has participated in an archaeological dig at Hazor. He is a frequent preacher, Bible conference speaker, and member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Course Textbook

Course curated by Phil Thompson

Why Study the Old Testament?

Reflection Questions
  • What reasons does Betts list for studying the Old Testament?
  • What New Testament passages inform our understanding of the Old Testament?
  • How do the evangelical and the neo-orthodox views of the Word of God differ?
  • What are the various theories of inspiration that Betts lists? What are the strengths and/or weaknesses of each?
  • How does the teaching of Jesus inform our understanding of inspiration?

Reading Assignment

A Survey of the Old Testament, pages 20–33.

The Biblical Text and Land of Old Testament

Reflection Questions
  • How long did it take for the Old Testament to be written?
  • What are the two languages of the Old Testament?
  • What improvements did the Masoretes provide to the Old Testament text? How did they ensure the accuracy of their translations?
  • When did the Samaritan Pentateuch originate?
  • Which Old Testament book is not included in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  • What is the Septuagint? What are the Targums? What is the Peshitta?
  • What is meant by “canon”? What are the tests of canonicity? When was the Old Testament canon established?
  • What are the three divisions of the Old Testament canon?
  • What does Betts mean by “the land between”?
  • What are the main observations Betts makes about the land of Israel that were to you?

Reading Assignment

A Survey of the Old Testament, pages 34–55.

Pentateuch Overview

Reflection Questions
  • What is the meaning of “Pentateuch”?
  • What are the keywords that Betts gives for each book of the Pentateuch?
  • What themes does Betts list for the Pentateuch?
  • Does the statement of Exodus 6:3 about Yahweh’s revelation of his name contradict the use of the name “Yahweh” in Genesis?
  • What names of God does Betts list? What is the significance of each of these names?
  • What does the Pentateuch teach us about human beings?
  • How does the Pentateuch point toward salvation through Jesus?
  • What is the difference between a unilateral covenant and a bilateral covenant? Why does God keep covenants that his people break?

Reading Assignment

A Survey of the Old Testament, pages 56–75.

Pentateuch Authorship

Reflection Questions
  • When did questions begin to arise about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch?
  • How did Julius Wellhausen influence following generations of Pentateuch studies?
  • What is the sequence of documents and redactors assumed by the Documentary Hypothesis?
  • What are the “six pillars” of the Documentary Hypothesis?

Reading Assignment

A Survey of the Old Testament, pages 76–141.

Response to Documentary Hypothesis

Reflection Questions
  • What evidence does Betts offer to suggest that Moses could have referred to himself in the third person? Who does Betts believe wrote the obituary of Moses?
  • How does Betts address alleged anachronisms such as Philistines, camels, Israelite kings, and Canaanites?
  • Do contradictions exist between the various divine names? Why or why not?
  • Why do we see variations in writing styles?
  • How does Betts explain the diversity of how people approach God?
  • Why do Hebrew narratives appear to re-tell the story in a different way?

Reading Assignment

A Survey of the Old Testament, pages 142–203, 761–769.