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Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God Paperback – October 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0800663445 ISBN-10: 0800663446 Edition: 7.2.2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press; 7.2.2009 edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800663446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800663445
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eric A. Seibert is Associate Professor of Old Testament and former Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Initiative at Messiah College, and author of Subversive Scribes and the Solomonic Narrative (2006).

More About the Author

Eric Seibert is Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College and the author of a number of books and articles. His two most recent books are Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God (Fortress 2009) and The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament's Troubling Legacy (Fortress 2012). Eric is the winner of the Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar Award (Eastern Great Lakes, 2005) and has served as President of the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society (2010-2011). Eric has also served as the Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Initiative at Messiah College. Additionally, he has both training and experience in conflict mediation. He enjoys speaking about topics related to the Old Testament's problematic portrayals of God, the violence of Scripture, and the need to read the Bible responsibly, in ways that promote peace. He is currently working on a book provisionally titled Disarming the Church: Why Christians Must Forsake Violence to Follow Jesus (Cascade Books). Eric is a member of the Brethren in Christ Church. He lives with his wife and three children in Grantham, PA.

Customer Reviews

Israel's literature was not so unique from other ancient Near Eastern cultures that some examples weren't available.
Mike
Strengths Whether or not one agrees with Seibert's approach to the Old Testament text, Christians cannot dismiss his effort on addressing this very challenging issue.
Michizon
Disturbing Divine Behavior does not provide a bad assessment of divine violence, but it does provide another inadequate explanation.
John Daniel Holloway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By H.E. Pennypacker on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I need to write a review to correct the misinformation of two of the reviewers (so far). This is a very good book that really should be read by Christians of all stripes. Few Christian scholars are as brave and forthright as Eric Seibert is in this book. Unfortunately, ES' approach can easily be caricatured and distorted by reactive readers who fail to listen carefully to the full line of his reasoning.

Seibert is a professor of Old Testament. He is conversant with current biblical scholarship and most importantly the Old Testament texts themselves. Seibert has prolifically wrestled with the numerous problematic, disturbing OT texts that express violent, bloodthirsty and immoral elements and does much to help us understand them with his expertise.

I frequently use this quote to point out the problem (from Raymund Schwager): "There are "600 hundred passages of explicit violence in the Hebrew Bible, 1,000 verses where God's own violent actions of punishment are described. 100 passages where Yahweh expressly commands others to kill people, and several stories where God irrationally kills or tries to kill for no apparent reason (e.g. Ex 4.24-26)."

Here are two sample passages to illustrate:

"So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded." (Joshua 10.40)

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michizon on November 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Introduction
Eric A. Seibert is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College and author of Subversive Scribes and the Solomonic Narrative. Being qualified in Old Testament literature, Seibert's most recent book, Disturbing Divine Behavior, addresses the troubling images attributed to God in the Hebrew Scriptures. As Seibert beings questioning God's behavior, he picks up the abandoned mantle as he wrestles with these texts. Contrary to contemporary Evangelicalism, Seibert resolves to confront and explain these troubling passages in order to liberate Christians "from the need to defend all of `God's actions' in the Old Testament," (p 179).Implementing a new methodology to properly understand these texts, Seibert promotes a Christological approach to the Old Testament. Using the statements of Jesus to qualify who the actual God of the Old Testament is, he believes this is the key to a proper hermeneutic.

Summary Thesis
In the first section of his book, Seibert highlights problematic passages from Genesis, Numbers, 2 Samuel along with many others which depict God as a mass murderer, a genocidal general and a dangerous abuser. The concern of the believer should be on high alert since the ramifications of these passages not only affect core Christian doctrine, but are "problematic for individuals from all walks of life," (p. 51) Seibert explains the diverse methodologies implemented by the Church to resolve this problematic issue, yet he rejects them all, claiming that they fall terribly short of what the scriptures truly communicate (see p 53-88)
In section two of his book, Seibert begins by introducing his own methodology in attempting to explain the God who is revealed in the Old Testament. He begins by undermining the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By LinkingWizard on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
It is clear that the author falls into the category of the individual who takes one aspect of theology and exalts it at the expense of all of revelation, resulting in non-trivial aberrations (all the great heresies do this, as G. K. Chesterton observed). The fixation that he has is upon non-violence, itself not a problematic position and one that has found supporters within the church for centuries. However, he pushes this position to the point where it leads him to decide that there is a necessary difference between the God that one finds in the text of the Bible (particularly the - from his analysis - often misleading text of the Old Testament) and the way God really is.

This position is problematic, as most Christians within the tradition of the church have found it to be. Although he discusses Marcion as someone from whom he distances himself, the distinction is only one of perspective, not of result: Marcion was hostile to Jews, while Siebert is simply "ready and willing to reject those aspects of the textual God that do not correspond to the actual God" (p.181). This is reminiscent of the red-letter Bible that emerged from the quest for the historical Jesus, where the red print separated out Jesus' words because they were more reliable than the writers of the gospel. Siebert's position is not distant, for it is Jesus who defines his theology, not the Bible, employing what he calls a "Christocentric hermeneutic" by which he trims the fat off the Bible that he wishes to discard.

His logic is that 1) Jesus reveals God, 2) there are revelations about God in the Bible that we can not find in Jesus, 3) therefore we must reject the latter. His introductory quote for ch.
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