Most of you know of my great respect for the scholarship of Walter Brueggemann; I have learned from him a great deal, and it is a joy to say that we are acquaintances and have traded many an email and conversation at SBL. But if there is someone who comes in a very, very close second, it is without a doubt Terence Fretheim from Luther Seminary. I have been making my way through his God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation (Abingdon, 2005), and I must confess this is the best book I have read in a long while. Fretheim is always transformative to read for me. This volume is no different. And so today’s edition of OT Theology Thursday is dedicated to Terry Fretheim, who has taught me to realize that creation and creation theology is far more deeply embedded and engrained in the biblical text than I had originally appreciated.
About the flood story in Gen 6 Fretheim writes:
“The flood story focuses on God and God’s commitment to the world. This God: expresses sorrow and regret; judges but does not want to; goes beyond justice and decides to save some, including animals; commits to the future of a less than perfect world; is open to change in view of experience with the world and doing things in new ways; and promises never to do this again. What God does here “recharacterizes” the divine relation to the world. God ameliorates the workings of divine judgment and promises an orderly cosmos for the continuation of life. God will never do this again! God is the one who has changed between the beginning and end of the flood, not human beings (though there are fewer of them around!).” (God and World, 82)
This quotation represents very nicely a microcosm of what Fretheim seeks to do in this volume. There are so many rich passages in this book from which I could have chosen, but I especially like the last line of that quoted above.