Published on August 28, 2023 by Eugene Ho

Crossway, 2022 | 224 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

by Cameron R. O’Daniel


I recently prepared a series of sermons dealing with the Old Testament’s prophetic voice in looking ahead to Jesus. This book would have been an immense resource to me in my preparation, and I am disappointed I received it after my series of sermons.

This book serves as an introduction to the Pentateuch’s overarching gospel focus. While Moses, the author of the Pentateuch, may not have been explicitly thinking of the gospel as we know it now from the New Testament books, God’s inspiration and working hand provide the necessary substance that Christ ultimately fulfills in His coming.

The author divides this book into nine chapters which can be divided into three sections. The first four chapters deal with Genesis and the beginnings of redemption. The middle chapter, chapter five, explains Israel’s exodus out of Egypt by God’s powerful hand. The final four chapters describe what Israel’s life is to look like after the exodus from Egypt. The book does not traverse into deep complicated explanations of the Pentateuch. Rather, the author’s aim is a bird-eye view of the Pentateuch with the expectation of future redemption in the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). 

The makeup of each chapter is similar throughout the entire book. The author does not forget to detail the Pentateuch’s foreshadowing of the coming Redeemer. I was not left to figure out for myself how the Pentateuch leads to Christ, and I think that is a major benefit of this book. The gospel is not an afterthought, as if it gets in the way of the main story surrounding Israel’s creation and story. I found the hope of the gospel permeating each page as the author took time to look ahead to Christ in light of the preceding content. 

The next point can be a praise and a criticism. The book’s content is easily accessible even to the newest believer. The vocabulary is understandable, and the concepts are defined by simple phrases and paragraphs. So, for the side of praise, any congregant can pick up this book and traverse its pages with relative ease. There are points in the book that deserve deeper study, but these points are not difficult to grasp.

On the side of criticism, a well-versed theologian or pastor may find this book to be simplistic. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the content is not incorrect, but the one who is looking for a more robust study of the Pentateuch may need to look elsewhere. If a pastor or theologian is looking for an introduction to the Pentateuch and its relevance to the gospel, this is a fantastic book. The criticism is strictly directed at the level of deep study needed.

I found myself enjoying the substance and the relation to the gospel in this book. However, as a pastor, there were times I hoped the author would go deeper during certain concepts. I understand the reasoning in keeping the content simple for regular congregants, but I was hoping for a bit more insight than what was provided. This is the primary reason why I see the level of theological difficulty as a praise and a criticism.  

To give an example, Vaillancourt uses one chapter to focus on the genealogies in the Old Testament. I think a chapter like that can intrigue all kinds of people, from the most academic to the simplest kind of congregant. The foundation for the entire book is the redemption one finds is ultimately in Christ. That’s important for understanding this excerpt. Vaillancourt writes, 

More than simply a general statement of general good that came from his suffering, in the flow of Genesis we can see this as a clear exclamation that the lineage of the woman had been preserved through the trials of Joseph.

A regular church member can understand a sentence like this, and a theologian can also gain valuable knowledge. So, I do think the author strikes a surprisingly balanced approach when communicating topics as unassuming as genealogies. However, as I was reading this section, I was quickly disappointed because the author did not take the point further. It is as if he introduced the concept, and then went on to other ideas regarding genealogies. 

For this reason, I think the book is more suited for a regular congregant who desires a simple but thought-provoking introduction to the Pentateuch. While a theologian can glean certain ideas and thoughts from a book like this, he will certainly desire more than what the author provides. While the example I gave is only a sentence long, the book captures that theme throughout each topic and chapter. Many other times I would get excited about an idea presented only to leave dissatisfied as the point was not pursued further. 

While this is an issue I think deserves comment, I do think it is a small issue. The issue of the difficulty of content is a small issue because it is not a commentary on the content itself. The material for each topic and chapter was well-formulated and theologically orthodox. I had no issues with the themes and ideas presented because each point is presented with biblical evidence and historical vibrancy. There are no biases either, as the author attempts to remain theologically balanced with the points presented.

I think this is good in large part because the main thrust of the book is not to take a side on any certain theological issue, but the thrust is to point to Christ as the fulfillment of the Pentateuch. There are hardly any theological controversies that should come from this study unless there is a point that does not attribute Christ as the fulfillment. The author remains focused for the entirety of the book and never sways from Christ being the all-encompassing destination of the book. Each chapter’s conclusion even points to Christ as the specific fulfillment of that particular subject. 

Overall, the only issue I found with the book is largely a non-issue. It is an issue that I can live with because it does not affect the truth found in the pages. It is simply an issue of the author not pursuing ideas a little further so as to provide more detail on certain ideas. However, while I may desire that for my own personal development, the book itself is a great resource for any Christian looking to develop their Pentateuch theology more. The book’s theology provides comfort knowing that God’s hand is intricately working in every section of the Bible, and that knowledge helps solidify a trust in God and an understanding of His divine plan of redemption.


Cameron R. O’Daniel 

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Crossway, 2022 | 224 pages

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