The Divine Warrior: The New Testament Use of an Old Testament Motif -- By: Tremper Longman III

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 44:2 (Fall 1982)
Article: The Divine Warrior: The New Testament Use of an Old Testament Motif
Author: Tremper Longman III


The Divine Warrior:
The New Testament Use of an Old Testament Motif*

Tremper Longman III

Extensive study has been done and continues to be done by scholars on the subject of Holy War as a literary theme, institution, and ideology in the OT. Articles and books on Holy War are so numerous that it is hard to remember that the earliest work on Yahweh’s role in Israel’s warfare dates back only to 1901 and the work of F. Schwally.1 Much later, G. von Rad2 brought the biblical theme of Holy War to prominence, and his work in this area continues to have a tremendous influence on present research as well. Today, the study of Holy War in the OT is most closely connected with the work of F. M. Cross3 and his students, particularly P. D. Miller, Jr.4 Conservative scholars have also written

* An earlier version of this article was presented at the 33d Annual Meeting (1981) of the Evangelical Theological Society held at Ontario Theological Seminary in Toronto, Canada. I would like to thank Professors R. D. Dillard, R. B. Gaffin, V. S. Poythress, and Moisés Silva of Westminster Theological Seminary and Professor Terry Eves of Westmont College for reading this paper and making many helpful comments.

on the theme—usually focusing their attention on the problematic question of the relationship of OT Holy War to Christian ethics.5

While the function of Holy War as a literary theme, institution, and ideology has been recognized in OT studies, its extensive use in the NT has not been elucidated; at best it has been only implicitly recognized.6 This paper demonstrates that the NT utilizes Holy War themes, particularly that of the Divine Warrior, in many places and for many purposes.

The intention of this paper is not to be exhaustive in its survey of the NT use of the Divine Warrior theme. The passages which will be examined have been divided into two categories: eschatological (using this word in a strictly futuristic sense) and noneschatological. Texts belonging to the first category will be discussed under four subheadings, each of the four representing a particular way in which the NT writers utilized the OT Divine Warrior theme: (1) The Day of Yahweh; (2) Jesus Christ as Cloud Rider; (3) Christ the Divine Warrior in Revelation; (4) New Song. Similarly, the non-eschatological texts will be dealt with as they relate to two matters of discussion: (1) Holy War as a concept...

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