Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
DBSJ 23 (2018) p. 111
The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions, by Mark J. Boda. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017. xv + 220 pp. $23.00.
Mark Boda is professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. The nucleus of this book originated in a series of lectures Boda gave at Acadia Divinity College in 2013. He aims to introduce readers to the core of OT theology by engaging Scripture intertextually and canonically (xiv, 7). His approach revolves around three rhythms or creeds that he sees as fundamental to the inner structure of OT theology. These creeds develop God’s person and character from distinct angles: the exodus redemption narrative, the divine character formulation (“Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God” [Exod 34:6–7]), and the covenantal relationship formula (“I will also walk among you and be your God and you shall be my people” [Lev 26:12]). After correlating these creeds Boda integrates them with the prominent OT theme of creation before linking them canonically to the NT and by application to the Christian life.
Following the preface, the book divides into nine chapters. Boda begins with a brief history of OT theology. He highlights predecessors who most influence his own work, including Geerhardus Vos, Gerhard von Rad, and Brevard Childs. From these and others Boda blends his unique diachronic, redemptive-historical, intertextual, and canonical approach. The next three chapters comprise the heart of the book. The first rhythm Boda observes is narrative, and here he concentrates on God’s redemptive acts in history. The influence of Vos and of von Rad is clearest in this chapter, as Boda implements the latter’s tradition criticism to highlight the “short historical creeds” that condense OT theology into concise stories about divine redemption. Several key elements populate these distilled narrative creeds—ancestors, exodus, wilderness, conquest, land, and exile—and these creeds materialize at critical junctures in the history of ancient Israel.
The second rhythm that Boda observes is divine character. The classic OT formulation of God’s character appears in Exodus 34:6–7, and Boda demonstrates how this formulation is integrated intertextually throughout the OT. By verbal aspect (nonperfective/nonpreterite verbs) and a rich collection of theologically-charged character terms, these integrated texts emphasize who God is (ontologically) and what he does (functionally) rather than what he did historically. Boda analyzes a series of significant character terms, including ḥesed and You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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