August 2009


In his article, “How May we Speak of God? A Reconsideration of the Nature of Biblical Theology,” Tyndale Bulletin 53/2 (2002): 177-202, R.W.L. Moberly offers the following definition of biblical theology (from a Christian perspective): “Biblical theology is thus, in some form or other, the endeavour to speak and/or write truthfully about God via the interpretation of Scripture where God’s self-revelation to Israel and in Christ is to be found” (p. 178). It is, in other words, an attempt to speak about God via the revelation of Scripture. I find this definition helpful on multiple levels. In the first it recognizes the importance of both of the testaments, and the purpose of speaking “truthfully about God” presupposes not only a descriptive function but also a confessional function, for it implies the confession that the revelation of Scripture speaks truthfully about God. 

 

This article is an excellent example of Moberly’s interpretive program and I recommend it highly to everyone. In this post, however, I want to examine one aspect of Moberly’s suggestion: the use of Exod. 34:6-7 to set a paradigm for biblical theology. I find this to be a very helpful exercise and worthy of reflection. (more…)

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In a previous post I looked at 1 Sam. 2:25b and noted the difficulty it raises in regards to divine sovereignty and human free will. In this post I want to look at the second difficulty that that verse raises, the troubling assertion that God is good, though he apparently desires the death of Hophni and Pinchas. The idea that God would desire someone’s death seems very problematic to our usual theological categories for God.

 

1 Sam. 2:25b

ולא‭ ‬ישׁמעו‭ ‬לקול‭ ‬אביהם‭ ‬כי־חפץ‭ ‬יהוה‭ ‬להמיתם

 

Trans.: But they did not heed the voice of their father for YHWH desired to kill them (my translation).

 

 

It is possible to read this phrase with the NRSV as “it was the will of the Lord to kill them.” But as far as I can tell, the word חפץ‭ ‬most regularly carries the connotation of “to desire” or “to take delight in” or “to take pleasure in” (cf. BDB, I do not have HALOT with me so I am curious what it says). It is probably possible (more…)

R.W.L. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis, Old Testament Theology (New York, CUP, 2009), xxiv + 252 pp.

R.W.L. Moberly, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation at Durham University, has offered up the second book in the new series, ‘Old Testament Theology’ (the other being the volume on Jeremiah by Breuggemann). Many of those who would read this review know that Moberly is my thesis advisor, so I am naturally somewhat predisposed to appreciate his work, and this volume is no exception. Hopefully, however, this review will be helpful to others.

Moberly begins his work by discussing exactly what a “theology of Genesis” should be. He discusses traditional historical criticism and ideological criticism, but proposes his own canonical and confessional theology whereby Genesis is understood “within the context of continuing traditions of faith, life, and thought” (12). Thus, Moberly’s work is significantly different than many “theological” studies of the book of Genesis, and is, in fact quite different than one would expect of a book titled, The Theology of the Book of Genesis.

The content of the book is a series of nine studies of particular texts that have significance for Genesis as received Scripture today, as well as two methodological studies on reading Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50. One of the strengths of this book is (more…)

I have been reading through Samuel lately and I came across a verse that struck me as both interesting and troubling. This post is the first of two posts that will deal with two difficulties of this text. The first difficulty is the issue of divine sovereignty and human free will or responsibility. The second issue is the difficult phrase “God desired to kill them” and the goodness of God. This post will deal with the first issue. 

 

The context of this passage (see 1 Sam. 2:12-25) is that Eli’s sons have been abusing their power as Priests to extort the people. Eli informs them that he has heard bad things about them and he warns them  (by implication) that they are sinning against God. The response to this warning is found in 1 Sam. 2:25b and is as follows:

 

ולא‭ ‬ישׁמעו‭ ‬לקול‭ ‬אביהם‭ ‬כי־חפץ‭ ‬יהוה‭ ‬להמיתם

 

My Translation:  But they did not heed the voice of their father for YHWH desired to kill them. (more…)

My education is beginning to turn towards this thing called “Theological Interpretation of Scripture” (TIS). So, as my reading and my studying turns in this direction, my blogging (as sparse as it may be) will begin to reflect this somewhat. For those who are, like me, new to this discipline, I found the following article very helpful:

S.A. Cummins, “The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recent Contributions by Stephen E. Fowl, Christopher R. Seitz and Francis Watson,” Currents in Biblical Research 2/2 (2004): 179-96.

Cummins reviews the works of Fowl, Seitz and Watson as representative of the Theological Interpretation movement. He looks at each of them in terms of 1) their reaction against historical-critical interpretation, 2) their Trinitarian framework, 3) their understanding of Scripture as a Two-Testament text, and 4) their understanding of Scripture and its importance for the Christian community.

Cummins begins by (more…)