Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch As Narrative Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Introduction, “Interpreting the Pentateuch” pp. 1-79
Part H, “The Purpose of the Pentateuch” pp. 33-59
At this point Sailhamer gives a brief introduction to the purpose and message of the Pentateuch. He will discuss more details at later points. “We will argue that the Pentateuch’s purpose is reflected in its composition. What the author intend (sic) to say determines the shape of the book” (Sailhamer 1992, 33). Sailhamer then begins to discuss compositional analysis, “the attempt to describe the semantics of the arrangement of source material in the biblical texts” (Ibid., 34). In general, the Pentateuch contains poetry, narrative, and legal language.
Sailhamer first discusses poetic texts. Several of the narrative portions of the Pentateuch conclude with a poetic passage followed by an epilogue. The author also uses this structure in larger forms as well, for instance, by closing Genesis with poetry in chapter 49 and an epilogue in chapter 50 (Ibid., 35). Sailhamer sees a pattern of the author looking forward at the end of each section to the end of time. Based on that observation, he chooses to look for narrative typology in the text.
In typology, early events foreshadow later events. Sailhamer discusses several instances of this typology he finds in the Pentateuch. “If the similarities between these two narratives are not merely accidental, then some sort of narrative typology clearly lies behind their composition” (Ibid., 38).
In discussing collections of laws, Sailhamer sees these as “the largest portion of the center section of the Pentateuch” (Ibid., 44). Again Sailhamer focuses on the author’s purpose in arranging the law collections as they are rather than where the collections came from. He does not, at this point, make a case for the particular arrangement.
On p. 46 Sailhamer returns to the idea of the narrative passages as the overall framework of the Pentateuch. He then observes that the clusters of laws surround the narrative passages. Within this arrangement he sees if there is any strategy to the sequence of events. The pattern which emerges is that the laws of God become more complex as Israel disobeys (Ibid., 49).