Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015, 176 pages, pbk
God Almighty will always have to suffer the inquisitions of his rebellious creatures, at least until He sorts out the waywardness epidemic of creaturely independence which is the bequest of the presence of sin. It won’t do to answer these jibes with “God can do anything He likes”, we must be prepared to educate unbelievers about the justice which always lays behind God’s judgments.
This new book by veteran OT scholar Walter Kaiser nicely addresses the most important issues which are raised by the destruction of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel or the “deceptions” one reads about hither and thither, or the Bible’s view of women and other things. Kaiser does so, moreover, in a patient, thoughtful and even pastoral manner. He is careful to explain all-important backgrounds and context, while unlike some recent attempts in the same genre, not sidestepping the sticky problems which some accounts may raise.
A particularly helpful and relevant chapter deals with whether God was okay with polygamous marriages in the Old Testament. Through clear exegesis Kaiser demonstrates that although there was polygamy, it was not pleasing to God. The tricky passage in 2 Samuel 12:7-8, for example, is dealt with deftly (100-101).
There are one or two extras included in the book. One which stands out to this reader is Kaiser’s caution about going “first to the New Testament interpretation as the source for the original and final meaning back into the Old Testament.” Of course, this NT understanding is but an “alleged New Testament meaning” which “makes the Old Testament meaning dispensable and reduces it to mean the same thing as the most recent application of that text in the New Testament.” (13).
A good book made better by the author’s mature, almost devotional at times, reflections on the issues.
As with all recent Kregel titles, I have a big ax to grind against the decision not to include any indexes. Really, who made such a dumb decision and why were they listened to?
My thanks to Kregel who sent me this book for review without charge.