This is our fourth consecutive month where the first day of the month is devoted to a post on John Goldingay’s OT Theology: Israel’s Gospel. This OT theology is unlike any OT theology I’ve seen — it is theological reflection on the unfolding narrative of the First Testament (his term), and this long chp is about “God Promised: Israel’s Ancestors” (the patriarchal narratives of Genesis 12–50).
How does one summarize such a conglomeration of texts, characters, and theological themes? I’ll just give some highlights, admitting there is no way to summarize this stuff. Here are the themes: God’s charge and promises, blessings — nationhood and land, being a blessing, Abr’s God and other peoples, promise and fulfillment, God, relating to God, marriage and parenthood, and family life.
When we speak of the Abrahamic promise we are using NT words — “promise” isn’t really an OT word. There are promises, of course, but there is no Hebrew word that means “promise.” They are God’s statements. He calls humans to be whole but the antithesis of body and spirit is foreign to First Testament thinking: “Seeing the inner as more important than the outer would contradict its vision of our human wholeness and of God’s creative involvement with our whole lives” (199).
On God: “God has a hard time being legalistic and is inclined to make tough-looking rules but then leave loopholes for the exceptional circumstances that arise in life” (202).
On circumcision: as a mark on man’s sexual potential, it “becomes the covenant indictment [failure by males] and covenant shame upon men” (203). I’ve not seen circumcision connected so much to sexual potential.
He explores the dimensions of the “promises” to Abraham … with flair and thoroughness.
On election: he connects election to vocation instead of simply to soteriology. “So talk about blessing indicates both a distinctive privilege and a concern for other peoples” (214). “There is one blessing in order that there may be many” (217).
On “prophet”: “A prophet is admitted to Yhwh’s cabinet where events on earth are reviewed and plans for earth are formulated, and that prophet has opportunity to take part in decision-making processes as well as eventually to leak their results on earth” (220).
On Abraham’s God and Other peoples: lengthy, ruminative, insightful stuff here on the presence of God and God at work with non-Israelites. He makes the point that Abraham’s line is not all that different from the world around them.
Goldingay is incredibly realistic about the tone and texture of the texts about men and women and husbands and wives and family life. “Either Yhwh does not think that abolishing patriarchy is the most pressing issue, or does not think anything can be done about it. The continuing prevalence of patriarchy in the church suggests that at least the latter is still true” (271).