Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Tidbit: Goldingay's Gospel

I'm halfway through John Goldingay's 3-volume Old Testament Theology (this is no small feat, considering that it totals some 2600 pages). Volume 1, Israel's Gospel, is especially captivating. I wasn't actually required to read it carefully, just skim it, but I couldn't put it down. Goldingay takes readers through the narratives of the Old Testament, weaving them together in his winsome way and punctuating his prose with profound insights into the ways of God. It was well worth my time, and would be well worth yours -- whether you are a student or not. Goldingay is known for his refreshing honesty, his refusal to flatten the Bible to make it all say what we expect it to say. He acknowledges the tough stuff, muses over apparent contradictions, and then invites us to look at it--and at our great God--with new eyes. For this scholar, the Old Testament is a treasure trove of grace, a place to encounter the gospel again and again. It's no wonder that Israel's Gospel won the 2004 ECPA Gold Medallion award.

Volume 2, entitled Israel's Faith, explores the prophets and poetry of the Old Testament, where faith in Yahweh is expressed most directly. It is arranged topically, but engages closely with the text. It is not as gripping as volume 1, but once again Goldingay's insights into the text make it worth the read. I'm really grateful for the Scripture Index so I can find these insights once again when I need them for my own research and teaching. Here's a taste of what this book has to offer:  In a section on Israel as Yahweh's "Home," Goldingay describes Zion as a place with no "inherent beauty," but a place that has "become beautiful because God resides there" (see Psalm 50:1-3). He goes on to say,
"The city of God is not a place in heaven or even a place on earth insulated from its pressures, but a place within history and its conflicts where God is at work putting down opposition. The challenge to the people of God is to believe that this is so and to live in history with confidence, yet without thinking that we are responsible for fixing the world's destiny or for bringing in the kingdom of God" (Israel's Faith, 242).
Sometimes in the messy day-to-day of life we lose sight of this. We forget that God is at work here, bringing about his master plan by fighting for us. His kingdom is advancing. A battle is being fought and won. Though we participate, we are not responsible to make sure it happens. Instead we are invited to "believe that this is so" -- that Yahweh is the true king and that he will win in the end -- and to announce that his kingdom is here. Now that's good news!

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