The first day of each month for the next two years we will be discussing John Goldingay’s OT Theology: Israel’s Gospel, and we are now on chp 5, “God Delivered: The Exodus.” So, here goes … and I hope you can manage to read this along with us. (Someone tell Goldingay to write shorter chapters.)
This book is more like an OT survey in theological-narrative mode than a typical OT theology that is more shaped by a cross-section of ideas in the OT. (Goldingay calls it the First Testament.)
Here are the themes of this chap and each is broken into bits — but I’m not going to type all of that in here: God who creates and delivers (where he argues that creation is assumed in the Exodus rather than creation being a later idea); who remembers; who works via people; who does signs and wonders; who insists; who reigns. And then he discusses how God is revealed, how God relates to foreign peoples, how God’s resolve relates to human resolve and how God’s act relates to the future. As you can see … stuff here is interesting; a thoroughly theological perspective on the Exodus.
Some highlights: “Creation is only the First Testament of the First Testament of the First Testament” (290). I spun on this one a few times, and still think he’s got one too many “First Testaments” in the sentence. Creation — Exodus — Old Testament: are these the three instances of First Testament?
He addresses particularism: Is God’s work with Israel a choice not to work with other nations? Goldingay says no, because he thinks Israel is shaped missionally.
“Moses is the boy who is available because he has a mother who thinks the sun shines out of his eyes and determines to do something about the situation, a spunky sister who is as good a liar as her people’s midwives, and an adoptive mother who is a soft touch when she sees a baby (Ex 2:1-10)” (308). If that idn’t charming prose I don’t know what is.
“Yhwh’s signs thus do not observe the ethical priorities that modernity and postmodernity emphasize” (321). I think Goldingay absolutely delights in poking the eyes of conventional viewpionts.
On liberation theology’s views of the Exodus: “The exodus does not take Israel from serfdom to the freedom of independence but from service from one lord to service of another” (323). And once Israel escapes Egypt: “Not only is it not over until it is over; it is not even over when it is over” (324). Ah, John, now you sound like Yogi Berra.
God reveals himself personally, in events, and in words. “Moses asks after God’s name so he can pass it on to the Israelites, and Yhwh responds by providing not a label but a theology” (335). “I will be who/what I will be” instead of “I am who I am.” God’s theology is a theology of ongoing presence in promise to be who he is and what Israel needs.
God’s act of deliverance establishes God as One Who Delivers, which means God establishes a pattern for how God works — and it establishes a pattern for how God’s people is to respond with gratitude and obedience and love.