Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology – Not Pulling Any Punches

I have written two previous posts giving some background for Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology (vol. 1) from IVP Academic.  In this post and several that follow, I will give some of my personal thoughts on the book.

To begin with, one thing that I love about this book is that Goldingay doesn’t pull any punches.  When he sees potential application for the Old Testament in the modern world, he makes it.  And the reader is left to agree or disagree.

Goldingay leaves no realm of modern life out of view.  He comments on modern U.S. politics, modern Middle Eastern politics, modern discussions of human sexuality, modern matters of church practice, etc.  So, be forewarned that in reading this book, you will probably feel yourself challenged at points.

Of course, this is to be expected to some degree. Goldingay is both a professor who teaches Old Testament and an ordained minister of the Anglican Church.  However, some  academic authors might have a tendency to pull back, even when writing a book primarily aimed at Christian readers and published through an evangelical publishing company.

The following is an example of Goldingay bringing sexuality in to the discussion in a way that may challenge some readers (he is commenting on Genesis 1-2 and the bond between a husband and wife):

Jesus inferred from this story that we need to encourage people to keep that commitment rather than encourage them to sit fast and loose to it. Human beings should not tear apart what God put together (e.g., Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation rather than a law, like his other declarations on the imperiling of marraige (see Mt 5:27-32). Merely banning divorce would not fulfill it, and recognizing when marriages have fallen apart and rejoicing for people to start a new marriage would not resist it. In our own context, people might also want to ask Jesus questions about homosexual practice, polygamy or masturbation, and in response Jesus might again refer back to Genesis. All these may fit ill with Genesis 1-2, which implicitly sets sexual expression within the context of lifelong heterosexual marriage designed to image God in the world. But Jesus might note that, for instance, Western churches tend to be softer on divorce and masturbation than on same-sex partnerships and polygamy, and wonder why that is.

Now, I’m not saying anything about my own views of marriage here, because that is not the point of this post.  The point is that this is the kind of book Goldingay has written.  The theology that he puts forth is scholarly and well-researched, but he shows no qualms about making claims about what this theology means in the modern world.

Though I don’t agree with Goldingay at every point at which he makes application to the modern world, I do think this is a definite strength of the book.  This is a theology that is aimed at religious believers and will be of benefit to them in thinking about how to live in modern society.

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