The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story

The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story

The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story

The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story

Synopsis

This book offers a probing, insightful look at the "outsider" motif running through the Bible. The biblical story about God's covenant with "insiders" -- with Israel as the chosen people -- is scandalous in today's cultural climate of inclusivity. But, as Frank Anthony Spina shows, God's "exclusive" election actually has an "inclusive" purpose.

Looking carefully at the biblical narrative, Spina highlights in bold relief seven remarkable stories that treat nonelect people positively and, even more, as strategically important participants in God's plan of salvation. The stories of Esau, Tamar, Rahab, Naaman, Jonah, Ruth, and the woman at the well come alive in new ways as Spina discusses and examines them from an outsider-insider point of view.

Excerpt

There are obviously many stories in the Old Testament, but they are virtually all related to and contextualized by one main, singular Story. the latter has sometimes been called a metastory, referring to a sweeping narrative that reflects a fundamental worldview and thereby subsumes all of the smaller stories. Essentially, the Old Testament metastory is that God created everything good, including the earth, for whose care God commissioned human beings who were made in the divine image (Genesis 1–2). But corruption and evil entered the world as a result of the sinful actions of humans; once sin appeared, it tragically increased exponentially (Genesis 3–11). To reverse the terrible state of affairs into which the world had fallen, God took the initiative and formed a specific community through which the world was eventually to be restored (Genesis 12 and following).

God’s formation of the community through whom the restoration of humankind would be accomplished is arguably the most prominent and pervasive feature of the Old Testament metastory. This election resulted in the people who were (eventually) called “Israel,” a group that throughout the Story had a distinct identity as the “people of God” and a never-to-beignored mission that was divinely mandated. Indeed, so pronounced is the Old Testament theme of God’s election of a particular people that both Jews and Christians, for all their other differences, have historically assumed it as a given in their interpretation of the Old Testament and in their respective religious self-understanding.

Jews do not, of course, refer to their Bible as the “Old Testament.” the latter is a dis-

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