Monday, January 04, 2010

The Disturbing Ways of the Old Testament God

Why does God seem to be so angry in the Old Testament and so loving in the New Testament? I am aware of three recent scholarly projects that focus on this issue, and the character of God in the Old Testament.

1. The forthcoming book Divine Evil? The Moral Character of the God of Abraham, which will contain the lectures and responses at this past fall's U of Notre Dame conference "My Ways Are Not Your Ways: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible."

2. Greg Boyd's forthcoming book Jesus Versus Jehovah. See Greg's bullet-point preview here, which he says takes "us a long way in reconciling the crucified God with the violent portrait of God found in the violent strands of the Old Testament."

3. Eric Seibert's (Messiah College) Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God.  NT theologian Scot McKnight gives three of Seibert's suggestions here, which are:

1. The God who really is and the God who is sketched in the Bible, that is, the Textual God vs. the Actual God, must be distinguished. And here he is saying that the Bible's depictions of God are from a human point of view and reflect Ancient Near Eastern views of God that are not modified.

2. The God of the Bible, he says, must be judged by God in Jesus or Jesus as God so that what conforms to Jesus is the Actual God and what doesn't may be the Textual God.

3. And he argues that the Bible's inspiration is "general" instead of "comprehensive." He doesn't care for accommodation theories and finds the traditional evangelical view of plenary inspiration too problematic so he concludes that inspiration is general instead of comprehensive.

Scot then invites dialogue.