The Pentateuch by Kenton L. Sparks, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002, 160pp., paperback, $16.99
This book is one of Baker’s Annotated Bibliographies. The volumes themselves differ in focus and in excellence. For example, one will find that while the volume on New Testament Introduction contains some incisive comments on the books it surveys, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said of its OT companion. This book, covering the Pentateuch, is the work of a Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University. A quick look at his own cited contributions shows him to be no conservative. Still, his annotations on the more conservative authors are balanced and informative. Not that there are many true evangelicals represented. Names which come to mind (but not, it seems, to Dr. Sparks’s) are Merrill, Chisholm, and Young. Meredith Kline gets one solitary inclusion. Not so Willem VanGemeren, whose article on the Sons of God in Gen. 6:1-4 might be expected to receive mention.
Which brings me around to the focus of the bibliography. In the other books in the series which I have seen there has been a concentration on commentaries, surveys, and background studies. Sparks departs from this trend and instead turns most of his attention to scholarly articles that will be of use to the reseacher. And this, from a certain perspective, is the strength of his book. These articles cover all types of Pentateuchal studies – usually from a critical perspective. For this reason CTS readers will find little to help them here, although those pursuing advanced studies in this field might want to consider the book, especially since Sparks’s comments are helpful.
But perhaps the most significant observation one might make about the book is to bemoan the fact that Baker could not find a more conservative man to write it.