Help Compiling Bibliography on Disturbing Images of God in the OT

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Many of you may know I am currently working on my second book, tentatively titled An Untamable God: Reading the Old Testament’s Troubling Texts Theologically (under contract with Eerdmans). I have thus far compiled an initial, brief bibliography, but I was curious what other books/articles/collections of essays, etc. need attention. There is always something missed, and this is my hope to minimalize that liability as much as possible.


What is missing, and equally important: why?

A very brief word about the book itself. It is in the vein of recent contributions by Seibert, Stark, Copan, Lamb, and others that looks at the seemingly problematic character of God in the OT and attempts to address the issue (see HERE). I remain unsatisfied with these treatments, namely because I think they commit one of three primary errors: 1) engage in apologetics to defend or exonerate God; 2) ignore the texts entirely as though they do not exist or by some exegetical method or gymnastics; 3) appeal to Jesus as the barometer of who God really is, thus beginning to tread a Marcionite line. The common denominator in all three of these approaches is that the disturbing portraits of God are basically explained away rather than explained. My approach, however, wants to retain the “untamable” (hence the title of the book) nature of these texts yet still allow them to speak a word about God, a word of theology.

And so . . . what else should I be reading?!

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7 thoughts on “Help Compiling Bibliography on Disturbing Images of God in the OT

    Robert C. Kashow said:
    February 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Richard Rubenstein?

    Charlie Trimm said:
    February 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Hi John, I appreciate this list and have stored a copy of it for future reference. This topic is very interesting, and I look forward to reading your book when you are done. I am finishing up a dissertation on warfare in the Old Testament and wrote an article for Currents in Biblical Research (coming out in the next issue) that covers recent scholarship on the topic. Many of the articles I survey there could be of interest to you as they relate broadly to the ethics of warfare in the Old Testament. For now, I would note that the journal Philosophia Christi dedicates an entire issue (2009) to the question of war in the OT.

    ben j. said:
    February 29, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Hi John,

    My friend Douglas Earl has several interesting works dealing with some of these “troubling texts.” Not sure I always agree with him, but he is working on reclaiming these texts for Christian theology. His PhD thesis was published in the Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplement Series: “Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture”. And he has a recent article on the rape of Dinah in CBQ last year: “Toward a Christian Hermeneutic of Old Testament Narrative: Why Genesis 34 Fails to Find Christian Significance,” CBQ 73 (2011): 30-49. He may have others out by now, but those are the two I know of off the top of my head.

    Rob Barrett said:
    February 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Hi John,

    I worked on the question of God’s threats against disloyal Israel in Deuteronomy in my book, “Disloyalty and Destruction: Religion and Politics in Deuteronomy and the Modern World” ( I tried to avoid the three problems you mention.

    I wish you well on your project.


    Joseph Kelly said:
    February 29, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I’ve got some resources you should consult in my most recent post:

    It should be obvious enough why.

    Joseph Kelly said:
    March 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Andrew Davies, Double Standards in Isaiah: Re-evaluating Prophetic Ethics and Divine Justice (Leiden: Brill, 2000).

    Barton, J. “Imitation of God in the Old Testament.” In The God of Israel, 35–46. University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    Houston, W. J. “The Character of YHWH and the Ethics of the Old Testament: Is Imitatio Dei Appropriate?” Journal of Theological Studies 58, no. 1 (2007): 1–25.

    Rodd, C. S. Glimpses of a Strange Land: Studies in Old Testament Ethics. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2001.

    P Tucker said:
    March 8, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Steussy, Marti J. Samuel and His God. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2010.

    Brief and concise treatment on the troubling character of God in 1 Samuel.

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