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Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God 7.2.2009 Edition
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Seibert’s work is divided into three parts, consisting of twelve chapters, and two appendixes. The first two sections outline the problems related to various biblical texts and... Read morePublished on January 18, 2014 by Anthony Lawson
A brave endeavor by Eric Seibert. Well written and engaging. Certainly sheds light on an uncomfortable subject. This book isn't conclusive. I'm not sure it's meant to be. Read morePublished on October 15, 2013 by Steve Mitchell
Seibert does a good job explaining the importance of thinking rightly about God (or, at least, not thinking horribly about God), citing examples of people using violent depictions... Read morePublished on July 20, 2013 by John Daniel Holloway
I was so excited about this book when I first started reading it. I have been researching and studying the topic of God's behavior in the Old Testament and how it contrasts with... Read morePublished on December 12, 2012 by Jeremy Myers - Writing at RedeemingGod
I purchased this book on the idea it would help explain why the Loving God Jesus describes in the New Testiment is so angry and violent in the Old Testiment. Read morePublished on November 24, 2010 by R. Lesky
If you are prepared to stretch your theology and beliefs of God and the Old Testament, I would recommend reading Disturbing Divine Behavior by Eric Seibert. Read morePublished on July 14, 2010 by MasterAP
I purchased this book with the hope that the author would attempt to provide some resolution or explanation of the difficult and seemingly inconsistent descriptions of God's nature... Read morePublished on June 3, 2010 by Mike