Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goldingay OT Theology Day – 5 of 5

I wanted to cite an example from volume 2 in the final post of this series, but I was tempted by yet another from volume 1.

A particularly delightful feature of these volumes is Goldingay's fearlessness to tackle difficult questions as the text throws them up. So he looks at divine sovereignty, creation and the problem of evil, the morality of 'holy war', the apparent limits of divine knowledge etc. This is one of the things that makes the books so enjoyable to read.

"Like the relationship of Ishmael, and later Esau, to Yhwh's promise, this point about the promise of the land links with some questions in current Middle Eastern politics. Yhwh's original promise and the consequent history of Yhwh's activity in the land imply that Yhwh still wants Jewish people to be free to live in this land and to control their own destiny there. Yet Yhwh's attitude to the moral rights if the Amorites suggest that this consideration would not override the moral rights of the Palestinian people as subsequent long-time occupants of the land. Further, as members of Muslim and Christian communities, the Arab peoples see themselves as members of Abraham's household. As such, they have some claims of their own on Yhwh's promises to the ancestors of Israel who are also their ancestors. A moral Middle Eastern settlement needs to find a way of respecting both people rights. It will be a more satisfactory settlement if they can first recognise each other's" (Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel, 212-13)

In this short paragraph he makes a number of important points, I think.

So ends my enthusiastic and shameless promotion of Goldingay's BRILLIANT Old Testament Theology volumes. Do get them both, immediately, or feel slightly odd, left out, bullied, and picked on by the whole universe.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Categorical Imperative of the Day

The following deontological, teleological, situational and universal categorical imperative needs your urgent attention:

Instantly purchase John Goldingay's Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel and Old Testament Theology. Volume 2: Israel's Faith

OK, I'll shut up about these books.




Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goldingay OT Theology Day – 4 of 5

One aspect of the books stands out, even though they are a lot of other things. Namely, Goldingay seems to enjoy challenging traditional Christian readings of scripture, turning over the tables in our most holy places of prayer, making our holy cows into mere hamburgers. It is a lot of fun!

Here is a gloriously controversial one for your consideration:

In discussing the way God asks questions in the first chapters of Genesis, Goldingay asks if God, according to the text, is really portrayed as knowing everything automatically, or whether things are different. Why does Genesis portray God as asking question to find things out? Doesn't God already know the answer?

'Sometimes God manifests supernatural knowledge, and no doubt God could know everything, including everything about us, whether we are willing for this or not (cf. 1 Chron 28:9; 1 Jn 3:20). But even God's supernatural knowledge of us comes about through discovery, through "searching out", rather than because God possesses this knowledge automatically (e.g., Ps 33:15; 139:1-6). Stories about Babel and about Abraham (Gen 11; 18; 22) will concretely show God taking steps to come to know things. They will again show that God has extraordinary knowledge, but will incorporate no declaration that Yhwh is omniscient, and preclude that by the way they portray God acting so as to discover things: "I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether in accordance with the cry that came to me. If not, I will know" (Gen 18:21). "Now I know that you are one who reveals God" (Gen 22:12) ... Talk of God acting to find something out is anthropomorphism, but like talk of God having a change of mind or loving or speaking, such anthropomorphisms presumably tell us something true about God's relationship with the world' (Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2003, p. 137)

So what do you make of that? Utter bunk? Heresy? Gospel Truth? Scripture turning over our prized theological notions?

I know the matter is hugely complicated, and 'open theism' is banded around like a dirty ping-pong ball, blog authors scoring points by saying how much nonsense it is, others simply brushing it aside as faddism because theological heavyweights see things differently. But Goldingay's whole project is to write a narrative theology of the OT, the God-breathed text, as 'Paul' claimed in 2 Tim. 3:16. This makes for some 'messy' and unconventional theology, but it is at this level his critics will have to engage Goldingay if they are to engage him at all.


Goldingay OT Theology Day – 3 of 5

The first of the two volumes, Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel, is a narrative theology of what Goldingay calls the 'First Testament'. In a nutshell, he examines the biblical narrative of 'Israel's gospel', of God's creation of and interactions with the world and Israel. The work is divides thusly: God Began, God Started Over, God Promised, God Delivered, God Sealed, God Gave, God Accommodated, God Wrestled, God Preserved, God Sent and God Exalted. While the vast majority of the book focuses upon the 'First Testament', he ends his book by tracing the story into the New Testament story. Click here for the table of contents, here for the preface, and here for chapter 1, the introduction: 'Old Testament Theology as Narrative'. I would comment that I found the first chapter to be not half as interesting as the second, so bear that in mind if you read this sample chapter. The chapter on creation is simply stunning – all manner of fresh insights about God's sovereignty, the problem of evil etc., though some of his more subtle exegesis comes later.

The second volume, Old Testament Theology. Volume 2: Israel's Faith, is more traditional in its structure, sticking more closely to usual theological themes, namely God, Israel, The Nightmare, The Vision, Humanity, The World, and lastly, The Nations. Click here to read the introduction.

In the next two posts I will present a couple of more controversial points for discussion.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Goldingay OT Theology Day - 2 of 5

This is shameless book promotion. I don't care. As I explained in my last post: they are worth it.

About Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel:

Richard Bauckham writes: 'Here at last is an OT theology that follows the whole of the biblical narrative and treats it all with theological seriousness. Goldingay conveys his prolific insights so readably that this will be a rich resource for all serious readers of Scripture'.

Walter Brueggemann writes: 'In this volume, John Goldingay, as usual, presents himself as a knowledgeable, sensitive interpreter who pays close attention to the text and to the faith given through the text. The focus on narrative indicates the peculiar way in which biblical faith is mediated that is not excessively tamed by the usual categories of doctrine, piety or morality. The title of volume one, Israel's Gospel, exhibits Goldingay's acute theological passion, one that warrants close, sustained attention'.

Tremper Longman III writes: 'This book is immensely valuable. Reading it is like sitting at the feet of a mature, experienced and wise Old Testament scholar and getting a personal tour of the theological significance of the entire narrative of the Old Testament. It is written in a way that is accessible to students wanting an introduction, but there is plenty here for the further education of even senior Old Testament theologians'.

About Old Testament Theology. Volume 2: Israel's Faith:

Leo G. Perdue writes: 'Goldingay possesses the rare talent of combining scholarly acumen with literary artistry and an engaging style. By means of theological astuteness, literary clarity, well-honed biblical skills, keen insights and an attendant hermeneutical interest, Goldingay produces a splendid volume for scholar and pastor alike. These two volumes belong in every scholar's and pastor's library'

Terence E. Fretheim writes: 'Grounded solidly in the study of specific texts, John Goldingay demonstrates that the Old Testament is no second-class citizen in the biblical theological conversation ... A special dimension of the book is a deft and straightforward analysis combined with a refreshing personal touch in working with theological issues ... This second volume of Goldingay's immense theological project will open up and enhance many fruitful theological conversations in the years to come'.

Christopher Seitz: 'The fruit of a lifetime of teaching and reflection, exhaustive in scope and mature in articulation, John Goldingay has assembled a vast reflective account of what the Old Testament says about God, Israel, humanity and creaturely existence. Goldingay especially enjoys the challenges of the Old Testament for present faith and life, and he rises to them. Comprehensive and engaging'.

Mary J. Evans writes that the books are 'emerging as a hugely significant contribution to contemporary Old Testament scholarship, which will be a great help to theological teachers at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This volume, in structure as well as content, not only maps out for us the faith of the First Testament with great clarity and in a lively readable style, but also introduces the reader to a vast range of secondary literature. Difficult questions are embraced rather than avoided, but at the same time Goldingay manages to convey a love for the text and for the God revealed in the text--something not always achieved by biblical scholars'. YES and Amen to that.

Robert L. Hubbard Jr. writes: 'Its intellectual rigor offers grist for the academic mill, its theological depth rich food for the weekly pulpit'.

And so on.


Goldingay OT Theology Day – 1 of 5

My sincere thanks to IVP for review copies of the following two John Goldingay volumes:

Old Testament Theology. Volume 1: Israel's Gospel. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2003

Old Testament Theology. Volume 2: Israel's Faith. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2006

At the moment, IVP are selling them at a 20% discount, for $36.00, and as I want to make clear in my posts today and tomorrow, and I mean this following sentence quite honestly: I have been enjoying these volumes more than any other books I have read in the last decade.

I am quite simply stunned, to be honest. They are, well, utterly brilliant, and I am at a loss as to how to draw attention to these books any more enthusiastically, even if I find myself in disagreement here and there (especially in the introduction) – and many will balk at his open theist tendencies (though I would encourage those who call open theists 'heretics', like apologist James White does, to deal with Goldingay's formidable exegesis!). I just can't put them down! I am literally giggling as I read it, lapping up the insight. Page after page has surprises for me. Again and again I find myself shaking my head with excitement and new realisations. In the future, if I recommend any books relating at all to the bible or theology, I will recommend these first.


I have a soft spot for Goldingay anyway. His book Models for Scripture was one of the most important I have ever read. It perhaps even gave me that extra added incentive to persue post graduate theological studies.

In the next few posts today, I will be citing passages, noting what others have said, and suggesting discussion points. I really want to draw your attention to these books! And a third and final volume is on the way! Flippin exciting!