Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
STR 1:1 (Winter 2010) p. 67
Eric A. Seibert. Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009. ix-xii + 347 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978–0-8006–6344–5. $22.00. Paperback.
While people of faith typically ignore Old Testament texts that portray God as headers. violent, angry or destructive, in this book Seibert boldly engages these problematic one? texts. He thinks it is crucial to examine disturbing divine behavior in the OT and develop principles to understand and interpret these texts. He argues convincingly that it is important to think rightly about God because a person’s view of God will shape not only their relationship with God, but also their own behavior.
In his introduction (pp. 1–12), Seibert narrates how he became interested in the Old Testament and specifically in the problem of its violent portrayal of God. He explains why he focuses on narrative texts (more familiar, more straightforward) and why it is important to ask questions of the text about its portrayal of God. Seibert begins chapter 1 (pp. 15–34) by listing many of the troubling texts by category and then moves on in chapter 2 (pp. 35–52) to discuss the perspectives of various groups of people who have problems with the OT’s portrayal of God including pacifists, feminists, the dispossessed, atheists and people of faith. In chapters 3 and 4 he examines approaches to the problem, both ancient (e.g., changing, rejecting or salvaging the OT) and modern (e.g., divine immunity, just cause, greater good, permissive will) showing how none are fully adequate (pp. 53– 88).
In chapters 5 and 6 (pp. 91–129) he first raises questions about the historicity of the OT using both biblical and archaeological evidence, and then addresses many of the concerns raised by asking the historical question. Chapter 7 (pp. 131–44) explains why OT narratives were written and chapter 8 (pp. 145– 66) discusses the theological worldview of ancient Israel. Chapters 9 through 12 (pp. 169 –242) lay out Seibert’s strategy for reading these texts responsibly: distinguish between the textual and actual God, use a Christocentric hermeneutic, use discernment and stop ignoring troubling texts.
In the appendices he discusses the theme of violence in the New Testament and the inspiration of Scripture (pp. 243–80). He also includes an extended section
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of endnotes and exhaustive bibliography (pp. 281–334) as well as indices of biblical references and modern authors (pp. 335–47).
Many evangelicals will find Seibert’s provocative titles for the role of God in chapter 1 as offensive (e.g., God as Mass Murderer, Genocidal General, Dangerou...
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