God Vindicated – A short review of Kaiser’s book on God’s actions in the OT

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.

 

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7 comments

  1. Thanks for the review! Interesting, especially that he addresses the (false) teaching that God was okay with polygamy and looks at the 2 Samuel 12 text. One of the first things I noticed that was wrong with a particular local pastor-teacher several years ago, was his teaching on this very point: his insistence that God had given David lots of wives and would have given him more, that God didn’t have any problem with polygamy. (Just reading the text itself, along with other OT passages about the rules for kings and basic moral law, I knew that such an idea was wrong, what this pastor was teaching.)

  2. I won’t be reading this book as I hope not only to get to the end of my life without waking up and feeling like I could go and kill some Amalekites if there were any left but also to get to the end of my life without believing that the slaughter of countless innocents could ever be justified or tolerated no matter what the crime or context whichever deity endorses it.In years to come If the Nazi’s had won the war no doubt the same justification would have been used to rationalise the slaughter of 6 million Jews. And as bonkers as that sounds don’t forget that it was the writings of Martin Luther that sowed the seeds for anti semitism within Germany hundreds of years earlier….and it doesn’t have an Index.

    1. James,

      I defend your right not to read the book or to understand Christian theology, or indeed Hitler’s Aryan Christ (who was not the Jewish Christ of the Bible), and to remain in ignorance.

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