Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

First Day is Goldingay

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).

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Ted Gossard

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:46 am

I like the free thinking of Goldingay here, free in the sense of still bound by Scripture, but seeing it for what it is. It seems like those steeped in the Old Testament arrive more to this kind of perspective, at least potentially and from what I’ve seen.

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John Frye

posted July 2, 2007 at 7:04 am

It is refreshing to read the same OT texts through a narrative theology rather than a systematic theology grid. I agree with Ted (comment #1), Goldingay’s free thinking is very refreshing, yet he’s still grappling with the text.

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posted July 2, 2007 at 7:53 am

Pseudo-Polymath » Blog Archive » Morning Highlights

[…] A blogger tied to time, first post of the month locked on topic at Jesus Creed by Scot McNight. […]

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Dana Ames

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:31 pm

how would you compare Goldingay with Bruggeman? Ok with me if you want to wait until the end of the book to answer this. I’m really curious, though.

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posted July 2, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Scot, just ordered the book this morning. I’m glad you are only doing this once a month; maybe I can catch up and keep up. :)

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posted July 2, 2007 at 4:29 pm

I was struck by “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).”
Great to think on this for a moment, as opposed react….
I do agree that patriarchy is not the most pressing issue…and God will not do anything about it. Neither of these statements mean that it is not important, but that they both have been dealt with in the New Covenant.
And, as with the Old Covenant, God does not “make” his covenant people “keep covenant faithfully”, but he certainly expects it. That we settle for less, even turning it on its head and saying that God supports it, must grieve God. But he is patient and full of mercy and restraint…and this gives me hope!

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posted July 2, 2007 at 6:02 pm

I am on the road and hence having a hard time keeping on all these very interesting threads. I too have felt I have noticed that for God patirarchy and even how we organize marriages (given the amount of polygamy we see in the OT) does not seem to be the most pressing issue. He seems to work with whatever material he’s got. I feel that Paul understood this in a very profound way and that he understood that God is less about setting up the perfect socio-political state and much more about creating the perfect people with hearts for him who will transform whatever socio-political state happens to be in existence into the KOG. But this is all impressionistic for me, the sort of seeping in of multiple Bible readings, so I am interested in what other people have to say. I also have to note that while God works through polygamists, the polygamy stories we have in the Bible are almost 100 percent a tidal wave of the grief that comes out of polygamy, underlining again the importance of story.

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