Book Reviews

Book Review: The Dawning of Redemption (Ian Vaillancourt)

The Pentateuch provides us with the Bible’s foundation, the key to understanding the rest of what happens in the Bible. Yet, when reading these five books, we jump between boredom and confusion. What do we do with the early chapters of Genesis and questions of science? The rest of Genesis is just long as the patriarchs wander around the desert waiting for a long time for anything to happen—with ten genealogies sprinkled in to add excitement. Exodus is exciting until Israel receives God’s law, and everything is downhill after that. Leviticus is… Leviticus. Full of details we don’t follow today, and we don’t know what to do about it. Numbers is like Leviticus, only more exciting, except for the unsettling feeling that we really wouldn’t know how to explain all the dying if someone asked us. Deuteronomy is one long book with Moses excitedly going over all the laws again to a new generation who won’t keep them either.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

There is much more to these books than those caricatures, and Ian Vaillancourt—associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Heritage Theological Seminary—lays out the importance of these books in this introduction to the Pentateuch. While there are different kinds of introductions, this one is based on biblical theology and is focused on the gospel. Early on in the acknowledgements Vaillancourt tips his hat on his influences—Sailhamer, Waltke, Dempster, Gentry and Wellum, Goldsworthy, Greidanus, Desi Alexander, and Michael Morales (which was great for me because I like all of these guys). 

The purpose of the book “to give a big-picture sense of the story so readers will be equipped to dig into its details on their own” (19). The stories of creation and fall already occur in the first three chapters of Genesis, the whole Bible is about the “the story of God’s rescue of rebels” (19). So the Bible tells the story of God’s rescue of rebels—his redemption of sinners. In this book on the Pentateuch, we are going to help our understanding along by seeing this portion of Scripture as the

To get a sense of the whole Pentateuch pie, Vaillancourt unpacks nine key elements of redemption in the Pentateuch’s storyline of redemption—

  1. redemption’s theater (creation), 
  2. redemption’s promise (Eden),
  3. redemption’s lineage (genealogy),
  4. redemption’s guarantee (covenant),
  5. redemption accomplished (exodus),
  6. redemption’s life (torah),
  7. redemption’s provisions (tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifice),
  8. redemption’s delay (unbelief),
  9. redemption’s warning (blessings and curses).

In regards to creation, many first want to ask how does or doesn’t relate to evolution. Vaillancourt doesn’t try to “make Genesis fit” with evolution nor does he try to disprove it (38). He comes at Genesis from a different angle:

Although today’s readers tend to primarily relate the creation ac- count of Genesis 1 to the theory of evolution—whether “making Genesis fit” with evolution or using Genesis to disprove it—in this chapter we will learn a different, more foundational question that arises from our approach to the Pentateuch as the book of Moses: why does “a well-structured Pentateuch… begins with the creation account?” He tries to look at how the creation account would have shaped the thinking of the original readers. I think this is an even more important question to ask (see C. John Collin’s Reading Genesis Well for more of this idea).

Vaillancourt even makes Genesis’ ten genealogies interesting—a herculean feat. He divides his chapter into four sections:

  1. Genesis 3:15 is the key to understanding the family lineage passages in the rest of the book.
  2. Genesis is framed around ten statements of family lineage.
    1. Five of these occur in the first “half” (Gen 1:1–11:26), and five in the second “half” (Gen 11:27–50:26).
  3. Each time we encounter a family lineage passage in Genesis, we need to ask an important question.
    1. When we come to a new genealogy in Genesis, we have come to a new section of the book. Genesis 3:15 taught us that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the seed of the serpent, and the serpent’s seed would bruise the heel of the woman’s seed.
    2. It reminds us to ask if the people in this new section will “carry on the family lineage of the woman” that will lead the the future deliverer who will crush the serpent and sin’s effects? (79).
  4. Understanding the family lineage passages in Genesis helps us interpret all of Genesis.
    1. Vaillancourt uses the story of Joseph (Gen 37–50) as an example of how this works. How does Genesis 38 fit into this section. Joseph here is actually the supporting actor. It is Judah who will carry on the family lineage through Perez (Gen 38:29; Matt 1:3). In light of Genesis 50:20, we see that “the lineage of the woman had been preserved through the trials of Joseph” (83). 

He shows the grace the flowed through God’s instructions (“law”) in Exodus, Numbers (and Hebrews) help us see that we are not immune to the sin of unbelief, and Deuteronomy reminds us that being in covenant with God means that we obey not as a way to “get in” with God but we are merely “living as” God’s people. The warnings we receive as Christians (such as what we read in Hebrews) should spur us onto to faithful living and endure until the end.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. A lot of it I have read before in other books, but all of that is packaged into one book that is easy to read and incisive on what is important. Vaillancourt offers good illustrations, decent discussion questions, and doesn’t get distracted with needless threads. At the end of each chapter he points you to Christ and his fulfillment of that particular theme in the OT. Most of the book (chapters 1–6) covers Genesis and Exodus, with one chapter written for Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy each. While this isn’t an even introduction, this will give you a bird’s eye view of how the Pentateuch functions with respect to the whole Bible.

Highly recommended.


  • Author: Ian J. Vaillancourt
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway  (November 1, 2022) 
  • Read the Intro + Chapter 1

Buy it from Amazon or Crossway!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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