IVP - Addenda & Errata - An OT Theology Sampler

September 9, 2009

An OT Theology Sampler

I’m looking over the third volume of John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology before we send it to the printer. And I’m repeatedly enticed to descend from my cruising altitude of 30,000 feet—from which I’m viewing the broad topography of the book for meta-errors—to land on an attractive patch of text and explore again the terrain at ground level. Here are some of those enticements, random places that caught my eye:

The warnings go into greater detail: Rashi comments, “The emptyheaded who remarked (in puzzlement) that the curses are more numerous than the blessings, have not told the truth. The blessings are stated as generalizations whereas the curses are stated in detail in order to frighten the hearers.” The combination of promise and warning reappears in the Sermon on the Mount, and there too (at least in Mt 5) more space is given to warnings than to promises. (p. 75)

“Fear of Yahweh” or “service of Yahweh” is the First Testament equivalent to “spirituality.” (p. 77)

The difference between God and us is that God never thinks he is us. Because of our capacity for getting confused over this question, Yhwh lays down some arrangements to underline the point. From Sinai onward there are holy space (such as the sanctuary), time (such as the sabbath), acts (such as sacrifice) and people (such as priests), entities that belong distinctively to Yhwh and that humanity is to treat with huge deference and awe, not to say from which humanity is to keep off. (p. 85)

Wealth makes it possible to have a really great time. And the First Testament likes the idea of people having a really great time. It enthuses over festivals where people enjoy and eat their fill of all the good things God has given them (e.g., Deut 26:11, 12). It is less enthusiastic about the idea of some people having a great time while others are excluded. (p. 489)

Both the First Testament and the New Testament work with the pre-Enlightenment assumption as far as this age is concerned, accepting war as a reality while also implying that it had no place at the Beginning and declaring that it will have no place at the End. Thus the First Testament does not concern itself with seeking to terminate war, but does promise that Yhwh will do so… . As with the fall of the superpowers, this is not an ending Israel is to bring about, but one Yhwh will definitely bring about. In the meantime neither Testament rejoices in war, though neither do they lose sleep over it. It is just one of those things, like death, taxes, patriarchy, servitude and the distinction between clean and taboo. Deal with it. (p. 556)

He [Christ] did not come to abolish, destroy or pull down the Torah. You would never have thought so from the way Christians relate to the Torah, and to the Prophets and the Writings. As we ignore them in connection with our theology, so we ignore them in connection with our lives. There they are, full of vision about marriage and family and community, about city and nation and state, and we ignore them. There they are, full of practical policy ideas about how to put flesh on the bones of their vision for these different realms, and we ignore them. Here we are, in a terrible mess about the way we organize marriage, family and local community, about the way we organize city life and national life, and we ignore them. It is not surprising that the secular world does so. It is grievous that the church does so. (p. 837)

And, finally, Von Rad never gave us anything like this:

Whereas an Israelite village might be the home of between fifty and two hundred people who serve the land around it, a city is larger and the land is not everyone’s focus. Some people in the city would farm the area around, like villagers but commuting further, perhaps for several hours a day like people in Southern California, and at about the same speed sitting on their asses. (p. 478)

This is a big book—all three volumes are big books!—and chock full of rich fare. My friend Scot McKnight has chided me for not restraining Goldingay from writing such long chapters. They take too long to read and aren’t “blogabubble” I guess! Since the chapters are clearly divided into numbered sections, I don’t see a problem. Nevertheless, there is a lot of material. So how might you approach these volumes? I suggest the following angle for readers (you’ll find this on the dust jacket):

With this final volume John Goldingay has given us the third pillar of an Old Testament theology that is monumental in scope and yet invites us to enter through multiple doors to explore its riches. Students will profit from a semester in its courts, and ministers of the Word will find their preaching and teaching deeply enriched by wandering its halls and meditating in its chambers.

Posted by Dan Reid at September 9, 2009 2:27 PM Bookmark and Share

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