Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A good reminder from Jeremiah.

"Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations..." -Jer. 36:2

The prophetic Word that we have in the Old Testament is not constrained by "Israel's Story." It can even be said, in a sense, that it has nothing to do with "Israel's Story" at all. This is first and foremost because God's Word is not concerned with storytelling but with commanding, rebuking, promising, examining, and foretelling (the order here is utterly arbitrary). If stories figure at all in the prophetic scripts, they serve the wider and infinitely greater purpose of God's majestic Lordship. Secondly, one cannot speak of "Israel's Story" without committing a woeful anachronism, for a wide array of the prophetic literature concerns two distinct nations: Israel and Judah. If we are to develop a science of the Old Testament and call it OT theology, there is no room for the excrescences of imprecise phrases and misleading terms. Thirdly, the prophetic Word concerns other nations; not simply as they figure or relate to "Israel's Story" but as they relate to the purposes of the LORD of Heaven and Earth, which are not ALWAYS wrapped up in Israel's concerns. The continuous merger between Israel and YHWH which figures in much OT scholarship is disconcerting and childish. Is it any coincidence that the writers from this school, that those who construct for themselves a God immanent in the mundane processes of Israel; is it any coincidence that the same are elsewhere in sympathetic dialogue with the Roman Catholic church, no longer finding anything to protest in Rome and its ecclesiology?

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