A critical introduction to the first of the five books of the Bible, which we call “Pentateuch” or “Torah” in its Hebrew name, is fundamental to an objective understanding of Christian Revelation and Faith. It is the record of the foundational experiences of our ancestors in the faith (cf. Romans 4:11-12) and the spirituality of a people on its way to the ultimate city (see Exodus 15:17; Hebrews 13:14; John 14:1-10). It is for this reason that such study is offered at the beginning of a three year degree programme.
What does critical introduction imply? The emphasis here is the word “critical” which points to the use of the indespensable method in biblical interpretation, the so-called Historical-Critical Method.
“Historical” means that the main context for interpretation is the place and time in which the text was composed.
“Critical” does not mean looking for mistakes in the Bible. It is reading the text independently of our faith as Christians or the teachings of the Church in order to have an objective and unbiased appreciation and understanding of it.
As stated above, we study the text in a scholarly way in order to assist us to a sincere search for the truth of our faith. The bible that seriously studied could truly become the Sacred Scripture to the students.
The word “introduction” refers to the limit of our course. It is impossible to discuss the Pentateuch in detail. That is for higher studies in the future. What the course offers is an overview of its general structure and content, of issues on the Pentateuch from the point of view of scholars, and a study of selected texts that are not so easy to interpret.