All the way back to the second century when Marcion suggested that the God of the OT was someone different from the God of the NT, there has always been the question for Christians as to what to make of the one called Yahweh. Was he indeed the God of wrath compared to gentle Jesus meek and mild, the God of grace and forgiveness? We are indeed very fortunate to have thoughtful and careful theologians of the OT to make clear that this caricature of the God of the OT is just that— an unfair representation of the presentation of the God of Israel as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures. And few if any OT scholars do a better job of getting at the theological pith and character of the OT than Durham’s Walter Moberly. And happily we have a new very helpful book from his pen to guide us further in the right direction in these matters. The God of the OT, (Baker Academic, 2020, 300+ pages) delves into many of the more important issues about the revelation of the God of Israel that have raised theological questions over the years.
There are many things to commend about this ‘must have’ volume. First of all, it is well written and as a result very readable for both the academic and the educated lay person or pastor. Secondly, it engages both Jewish and Christian interpretation of key passages from the OT. Thirdly, the book doesn’t just engage in depth with the expected texts like Exodus 3, the God revealed in the burning bush, but also with the wise God revealed in Proverbs 8, the Mysterious God of Gen. 4, the only God of 2 Kings 5, and the faithful or trustworthy God of Psalm 46, Jeremiah 7 and Micah 3. Further, while Moberly definitely allows the OT to speak with its own voice, he also engages with later Christian readings of these and other OT texts. In other words, he approach his task not just as an OT scholar, but also as Christian who believes not only in the God of Abraham, but also in his Son and the Spirit. In other words, he is a Christian theologian as well as an excellent OT scholar.
This book should be on the shelf of all those reading these blog posts hoping to better understand the God of the OT, and it will serve as a good guide and a stimulus for all students and scholars for many moons to come. What follows in subsequent blog posts starting tomorrow is my dialogue with my friend Walter about various important issues his book raises. Read On!