chapter  1
THE PENTATEUCHAL STAGE
Pages 27

Rabbinic Judaism privileges the Pentateuch as the verbatim record of part of God’s revelation Moses at Sinai, the written part. To frame their statement the sages of that Judaism transformed the narrative and diverse case-rules of the Pentateuch into a systematic account of holy Israel’s social norms. Then the whole Torah, written and oral, set forth the law and theology of the social order that God had in mind in revealing himself by giving the Torah to Moses for Israel. The priority accorded to the Pentateuch by Rabbinic Judaism in its formative age provides the definitive indicator of that Judaism, marking that off from all other Judaisms of the same time and place. Other, competing Judaisms privileged other portions of Scripture altogether and none of them built their normative structure upon the foundations of the Pentateuch in particular. Only Rabbinic Judaism did. By “the Pentateuchal stage,” therefore, I mean, how do the Five Books of Moses, read as a continuous, unfolding story, shape the religious system that accords to those books a primary position?