We are working through John Goldingay’s multi-volumed “First Testament” theology, and we are in volume 2 — Israel’s Faith. The first theme in Israel’s faith is God, and this chp — 151 pages long! — is worth the price of both of the books. I want to provide a brief sketch of the major ideas canvassed in this chp, though I’ll focus on pp 96ff because that is where we stopped last month.
He sketches Yhwh’s presence, love, hostility, and the two sides to Yhwh’s person and activity. Excellent, and if you are keen on doing a series on God in the First Testament, this would be a great place to start and also a good outline for a series. Goldingay’s approach to say what he sees and not to say what he believes (or what evangelicals are taught to believe).
A question for us: What do we mean when we say God is “present”? Maybe these ideas from Goldingay can trigger your response. What do we mean when we say God is “absent”? Do we believe God can be “absent”? In what senses?
How is God present?
Accompanying presence: with God’s people.
Settled, local divine presence: particular places (Ex 33:7-11)
Attentive presence: God listens (Ps 50)
Active presence: results show God’s presence (Ps 18; 97)
Narrative presence: tells the story (Ps 63:2)
Personal presence: Gen 18.
Intense presence: Exod 40:34-38
And God can be absent in an accompanying, attentive, personal absence.
“Everyone knows that the OT God is a God of wrath; the NT God a God of love. Oh no they don’t” (108). Maybe the best section I’ve read in the two volumes of his work. Here are some themes he sketches about God’s love in the OT … and there is discussion for each and I can’t include but one reference for each:
1. Fatherly dedication (Mal 1:6).
2. Parental “carrier” (Jer 1:5; Isa 44:2, 24; 4;9:5)
3. Motherly compassion (Deut 32:18)
4. Attentiveness (Ps 79:5-9)
5. Mercy (Isa 57:14-21)
6. Healing (Isa 57:14-21 again)
7. Commitment (Ps 62)
8. True faithfulness (Ps 31:5)
9. Passion (Ezek 16:8)
10. Cleansing (Ps 51:2; Ezek 16:63)
11. Carrying (Ps 85:2-3)
12. Getting over (Mic 7:18)
13. Pardon (Jer 36:3)
14. Risk (Gen 22:1, 12)
15. Sadness (Hos 6:4)
16. Letdown (Jer 26:3)
17. Grief (Gen 6:5-6)
Well, alongside this sketch of themes in God’s love, Goldingay has a sketch of God’s hostility: weary skepticism, hiddenness/withdrawal/absence, anger, rage, redress, self-assertion, repudiation, ruthlessness, slayer, warrior, enemy, vintner.