September 4, 2009
Only Superlatives Will Do!
Back in June I mentioned and excerpted John Goldingay’s forthcoming Old Testament Theology, Volume 3: Israel’s Life. We’re getting ready to send it to the printer, and this week I was selecting excerpts from endorsements (some call them blurbs) to put on the back cover. The real estate on the back cover is shrinking, folks—even the ISBNs and bar codes are crowding out the good stuff. so to offset my frustration of not being able to allow the endorsers their full due, here, dear readers, are the endorsements in full!
“The fruits of Goldingay’s life-long devotion to the study of the Old Testament is visible on every page. This work is a sure and steady guide that will lead the reader into the riches of Israel’s legacy and her God.”
Gary Anderson, professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, University of Notre Dame
“In the third and final volume of his massive Old Testament Theology John Goldingay turns to ethics and explores ‘the life of the children of God’ (Barth). He shows how this is presented as response to the gospel as Israel experienced it and as an expression of their faith in Yhwh. Goldingay sees the ethics of the Old Testament as a direct call to us today: the presentation is as far from antiquarian as it could be. Christians and Jews alike will need to ponder this challenging work.”
John Barton, Oriel & Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford
“John Goldingay writes with magisterial knowledge of the biblical texts and a keen eye for how to open them in fresh ways for scholars, teachers, preachers and all serious readers. Drawing deeply and widely on the scholarly literature - and also on literature that most scholars would not think to consult - he demonstrates with utter lucidity and conviction how the Hebrew Scriptures present a vision of life in community that is still sane, salvific and maybe even more essential for this generation of faith than for our ancestors.”
Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
“With his characteristic thoroughness and engaging writing style, Goldingay offers a rich reflection on the life God expects of his people. This third volume of his tripartite theology begins with God himself as the appropriate place to ground the meaning and significance of this life. It then turns to explain the centrality of the communities within which individuals share their existence, grow in virtue and find their true self. Faith in action, worship and spirituality as inseparable from ethics, and leadership as service—these are a few of the emphases of the message of the Old Testament developed in this work. Read Israel’s Life and deepen your appreciation of the Old Testament’s relevance and enhance your vision of a life well-lived and pleasing to God.”
M. Daniel Carroll R., Denver Seminary
“Finally, Goldingay’s Old Testament ethics! In a highly readable fashion he demonstrates masterfully that Israel’s vision of life before God is not irrelevant to modern existence. In fact, the communal shape of Israel’s faith, as well as its profound sense of individual responsibility and freedom, cast our own society’s peculiar sicknesses into sharpest relief and point firmly in the direction of a cure. This is first-rate, thrilling stuff—the appropriate culmination of a glittering trilogy.”
Stephen B. Chapman, Duke Divinity School
“It is hard to find words to do justice to the scale of John Goldingay’s achievement in bringing his lifetime’s work on Old Testament Theology to a climax with this third volume. Monumental. Epic. Only superlatives will do. Superlatives garlanded with gratitude. Section after section makes you stop and think—challenged, enlightened, astonished, disturbed, sometimes provoked to disagreement, but thereby forced to go back to the text. For others of us with a lifetime of Old Testament reflection behind us, it is like meeting old familiar friends in intriguing new outfits. Possibly his greatest achievement is that he rigorously preserves the integrity of the world of Old Testament Israel and its distance from our own, and yet constantly dissolves the boundaries of history and culture to let the scriptures speak directly and uncomfortably into our world. We see and hear ‘them,’ but in Goldingay’s subtle hermeneutic they address ‘you’ and ‘us.’ There is no corner of Israel’s life and faith that remains unexplored in leisurely exegesis and sharp observation of contemporary relevance. There is immense reading, well digested and aptly shared. All kinds of Christian foibles and prejudices are challenged, but core scriptural truths are lovingly affirmed, often with surprise and paradox but never without a sense of the author’s own profound commitment to the God of biblical revelation, and with true reverence for the affirmations of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Goldingay compels us not to observe Old Testament Israel’s world from some assumed rightness and superiority of our own, but to stand within their world, to live within their response to God and God’s patient love affair with them (and us), and from that vantage point to look critically at the oddness, deficiency and poverty of ours.”
Christopher J. H. Wright, international director, Langham Partnership International