Old Testament

This tag is associated with 15 posts

Sunday Quote!- The Bible and Ancient Cosmology

ane-waltonEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Bible and Ancient Cosmology

Often, people who are discussing the various positions in the Christian origins debate and lining up as young earth, old earth, theistic evolutionist, and the like on a continuum (see my post on different positions on Creation) do not take into account the way that God worked in the Ancient Near East to bring forth God’s revelation. John Walton has some perceptive words on this issue:

Yahweh did not reveal an alternative cosmic geography to Israel in the Old Testament. But there can be no discussion of creation or many other important issues without presupposing some sort of cosmic geography. With no alternative presented and no refutation of the traditional ancient Near Eastern elements, it is no surprise that much of Israel’s cosmic geography is at home in the ancient world rather than in the modern world. (175, cited below)

Of course, Walton does not suggest that this means we reduce all discussion of the OT into discussions of the ANE. There were important distinctions: “The difference was that the natural phenomena were emptied of deity… they were instruments for [God’s] purposes…” (175).

Nevertheless, we should be aware of the ANE cosmology and see how that impacts our reading of the text. Rather than settling for ignoring the context of the text and what it meant to those to whom it was revealed, we should take into account this background. Walton’s book is simply superb for this.


Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Microview: “Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament” by John Walton– I wrote a brief review of this book, which I consider one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)


Edward Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Books; Editiones Scholasticae, 2014).


Sunday Quote!- Modern Warfare and the Power of God


Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Modern Warfare and the Power of God

I’ve been reading through Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem, a collection of essays about the problem of war in the Bible. One of the essays was by Stephen Chapman and had a number of powerful quotes and ideas sprinkled throughout. I particularly enjoyed one part about modern warfare:

Modernity is arguably no less brutal than the ancient world for conducting a secularized, technologized, indiscriminate form of war that excludes God from the kill zone on principle, thereby seducing the strong into believing that they are masters of their own destiny. Indeed, the biblical witness unblinkingly confronts modernity most sharply right at this point: “Assyria will not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God’ to the work of our hands'” (Hosea 14:3) (66, cited below)

The so-called secularization of war has not somehow cleansed it of evil, but rather made the work of our hands the sole credit and often reason for war. Salvation comes not from others, but we turn to the work of our hands–cruise missiles, drone strikes, and the like–to wage war for resources, land, money, and the like. Has war become more or less justified? Is it somehow sanctified through “secularization”? I think this quote speaks powerfully to these notions. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book now and I really have enjoyed it. It hasn’t quite been about the topics I expected, but it’s been more challenging and expanding in its vision for that reason.


Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)


Stephen Chapman, “Martial Memory, Peaceable Vision: Divine War in the OT” in Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013).


Really Recommended Posts 7/25/14- Lewis, Jesus Myth, the Bible, and more!

postAround the ‘net we go, where we stop, I guarantee a good read! Check out this latest round of recommended posts, on subjects like C.S. Lewis’ apologetics, the need to read the Bible, the Jesus myth, and more! Make sure to drop a comment at the sites of those whose posts you enjoyed, and let me know what you thought her!

The Telephone Game and Biblical Transmission– Is the “Telephone Game” really an analogue for how the Bible was transmitted over time? Short answer: no. Check out this post to find out many problems with this analogy.

C.S. Lewis and the Language of Apologetics– I cannot emphasize how great a read this post is. It discusses how Lewis’ apologetic is able to penetrate even secularized countries like the Czech Republic. It is imperative to realize that the Gospel is to be presented in different ways to different people. I discovered this post through The Poached Egg, which is a site well worth bookmarking for its constant stream of quality apologetics links.

How do you respond to Conquests in the Old Testament– The problem of “Holy War” in the Bible is one which many feel acutely. Here, some of the most interesting responses are briefly summarized. I found this to be a helpful introduction to the issues.

Why Mythicism Should Not Be Taken Seriously– Nick Peters looks into some of the issues with the “Jesus Myth” movement. In particular, he examines the historiographic approach of those who are trying to show that Jesus never existed. It’s a fascinating read about a strange topic.

Open the Book– Here is an exhortation: open the Bible and read it! This post is worth a read too, as it gives a brief history behind how we got the Bible in our hands today.

7 Things Christian Parents Can Learn from the Tim Lambesis Story– Here, some very good insights into the need for apologetics and solid grounding in theology are taken from the story of Tim Lambesis- the lead singer of a band who has recently said he rejected his Christian faith but kept the label in order to sell records. Check out these great insights. See also my post On Christian Music.


Really Recommended Posts 8/29

Here’s another roundup of several posts I found worth reading:

The Apologetics of Love:


William Lane Craig answers a question about genocides in Canaan:


Review of the book “Clouds of Witnesses”:


A very brief discussion of the Euthyphro Dilemma:


Gay activist explains how same-sex marriage will change marriage:


I stumbled across this phenomenal outline of some of the issues dealing with God and the Problem of Evil:


Book Review: “God Behaving Badly” by David Lamb

David Lamb’s God Behaving Badly (hereafter GBB) seeks to answer one of the most ubiquitous attacks on Christianity today: Is the God of the Bible evil?

Throughout the book, Lamb follows a similar outline through each chapter: introduce tough texts, provide answers, synthesize general remarks. Lamb is unafraid to take on the toughest Scripture passages (1 Sam 4-5; Gen 3; Josh 10, 11, etc.). He points out rightly that people who line up on either side of these issues tend to ignore the texts on the other side. Those who call God angry, racist, sexist, and the like tend to ignore those passages which portray God as loving, welcoming, and empowering. Similarly, too many Christians ignore the ‘tough’ passages.

Lamb’s book excels in many specific areas. When discussing issues related to women, Lamb follows William Webb’s “redemptive/progressive” hermeneutic and points out that God is not sexist, but affirming. His treatment of the oft-misunderstood Genesis account is superb. Most interestingly in relation to women in the Bible, he writes, “If it is okay for women to compose sections of the Bible, perhaps we should let them teach it?”(64). Lamb’s scholarship in the Old Testament shines through on numerous occasions throughout the work. He points out the Ancient Near Eastern tendency to utilize hyperbole in descriptions of conquests (77).

There is one major point of divergence I feel with Lamb, however, and that is in the area of mutability/immutability. Without getting too far afield, it is worth noting that Lamb’s treatment of God’s interaction with people is a bit off, in my opinion. While noting texts which say God does not change, Lamb also notes those in which God appears to change his mind.  He goes on to say,

Is it good that God changes his mind? …If you are a child who deserves to be punished, it is good when a parent changes his mind about your punishment. If you are a car buyer, it is bad when a used-car dealer changes his mind about the low price he had promised (151).

The words I wrote in my notes were “gross anthropomorphism.” The reason is because while it may be written that God “changes his mind” it would be very strange to say that He could be compared to the cases Lamb points out. God, knowing the future, would know what was going to happen, and so to say that God is like a parent changing their mind seems a bit out of place. I’ll not delve into a major argument with this, but Lamb brings up the case of Jonah as an example for this. Yet it seems from the book of Jonah that God knew Nineveh would repent–the very reason he sent Jonah in the first place (and the reason Jonah did not initially want to go). For it would not make sense for Jonah to be so upset about being sent to Nineveh to tell them to repent if he felt God would punish them regardless. In any case, this does little to undermine Lamb’s overall argument, but it is worth noting as a flaw. A final note I’d like to make is that Lamb frequently uses God’s divine name. This may be off-putting to some readers who feel it should only be presented as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH.

The conclusion of GBB is simply fantastic. Lamb sums up his points in each chapter (a feature I think every conclusion should have).

God Behaving Badly is a great introductory look at a well-known challenge to Christianity. Lamb doesn’t ignore the hard issues in the Bible and tackles them with sincerity and intelligence. I recommend the book to those looking to start exploring issues related to God’s moral nature.



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