Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil

Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil

Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil

Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil


In the ancient Near East, when the gods detected gross impropriety in their ranks, they subjected their own to trial. When mortals suspect their gods of wrongdoing, do they have the right to put them on trial? What lies behind the human endeavor to impose moral standards of behavior on thegods? Is this effort an act of arrogance, as Kant suggested, or a means of keeping theological discourse honest? It is this question James Crenshaw seeks to address in this wide-ranging study of ancient theodicies. Crenshaw has been writing about and pondering the issue of theodicy - the humaneffort to justify the ways of the gods or God - for many years. In this volume he presents a synthesis of his ideas on this perennially thorny issue. The result sheds new light on the history of the human struggle with this intractable problem.


You do not find the Grail, the Grail finds you.
Vous ne trouvez pas le Saint Graal, c'est le Saint Graal qui vous

—Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code

I did not find theodicy. It found me as a child of four when my father died, leaving a widow with four small children in rural South Carolina in the wake of the Great Depression. My mother found comfort in Rom 8:28, Paul's promise that God works in all things to bring about good for those who love him. From that day in 1939 until today, she has continued to trust those words. That early encounter with one of life's anomalies sensitized me to similar enigmas in society at large and inaugurated an agenda that has lasted throughout my professional career.

My 1964 Ph.D. dissertation was published in revised form eleven years later under the title Hymnic Affirmation of Divine Justice: The Doxologies of Amos and Related Texts in the Old Testament (1975). Various articles dealing with theodicy followed, as well as an edited book, Theodicy in the Old Testament (1983), with an introduction on the shift from theodicy to anthropodicy. A year later came A Whirlpool of Torment: Israelite Traditions of God as an Oppressive Presence (1984). In 1994 when Walter Brueggemann wrote an article for Religious Studies Review assessing my contribution to the study of the Old Testament (“James L. Crenshaw: Faith Lingering at the Edge,”

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