Religious Studies Article Review

Published: 2021-06-22 00:29:20
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Category: Family, Life, Bible

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Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?
In this excellent book, Thompson takes the old myth on the Old Testament God to task explaining the fact that life is not to be taken for granted in any way. Many view God as someone who is forbidding, always ready to castigate and create situations where his obedience is unquestioned and/or without any sort of parallel. Thompson does attempt to dispel that myth accordingly focusing on life in general and how the many episodes in the Bible can be said to dispel this theme accordingly.
The main points of the book:
Principally the book attempts to tackle certain aspects of life which are seen as being repressive when God intervened in Old Testament times. This was not always a good thing as God was seen as haughty and without much room for manoeuvre. There are several episodes where the magnanimity of God is explained especially in the Book of Genesis where although the God being observed is not always clear and direct he shows that he can be merciful. A case in point would be the exit of the Israelites from Egypt where he kept showing the way to Moses even though there were severe obstacles in every way.
Thompson’s purpose seems to dispel the myth that the Old Testament God was some sort of tyrant without any qualms or mercy for those who were feeling unhappy or confused about how certain messages were being conveyed. The disappearance of Moses is also another issue which continues to dominate proceedings as it may seem strange to accept the whole factor of disobedience which makes up most of these decisions. Another part of the book which is interesting is the way God is conveyed to others and how he shows himself in different ways and manners always demonstrating mysticism and beauty.
The Old Testament is perhaps a hard book to understand in some areas but it can also be very revealing in others. First of all there is the way God speaks to us indirectly, for example through the Ten Commandments which are full of symbolic meaning and great openness. One also has to accept the fact that life is not always easy to understand so the Prophets are always part and parcel of everything in this respect. Thompson continues to argue that these Prophets had diverse and varied messages to show especially in the way these were demonstrated to the lay Israelite people.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and challenging parts of the Old Testament is the episode of Abraham and Isaac where the former is made to sacrifice his only son. Here we can truly observe the great magnanimity of God who faces up to the challenge of brinking Abraham to the brink and eventually sacrificing his own son. However God then repents when he observes the incredible blind faith which Abraham had in him and allows him to take his son and shower him with gifts. It is a strong and poignant moment in the whole of the Bible and shows God’s incredible mercy. One is made to reflect on the importance of obedience to God and how this may affect his views upon us and how our relationship with God actually develops accordingly.
Another episode which is dealt with in the book focuses on the relationship between David and God. Whilst David was an egocentric and selfish person sending Bathsheba’s husband to die in the front line of the Israelite army, God made the king see his faults and repent for them. Although he had great faith in David, he knew that he was perhaps a weak person inside and this meant that he had to make certain allowances for these weaknesses. He could have easily castigated David for his incredible selfishness but he instead chose to choose the way of empathy and understanding.
Thompson A: Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God; Washington, Energion Publications 2003, Print
Anderson, Bernhard W. Understanding the Old Testament. 4th edition. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1987.
Bandstra, Barry L. Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids, New York. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1995.
Flanders, Henry J., Robert W. Crapps and D. A. Smith. People of the Covenant: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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