The Hidden God: The Hiding of the Face of God in the Old Testament

The Hidden God: The Hiding of the Face of God in the Old Testament

The Hidden God: The Hiding of the Face of God in the Old Testament

The Hidden God: The Hiding of the Face of God in the Old Testament


This new series brings together a number of great academic works from the archives of Oxford University Press. Reissued in a uniform series design in Spring 2000, Oxford Scholarly Classics will enable libraries, scholars, and students to gain fresh access to some of the finest scholarship ofthe last century.


This study began with a keen interest, both academic and personal, in the general idea of the hiddenness of God in the Old Testament. From an academic perspective it seemed odd that within the circles of Old Testament scholarship so much emphasis should be given to the idea of God's presence without at least some attention to what seems the logical corollary of this idea. From the standpoint of personal experience, the tension between religious convictions about God's abiding presence and moments of doubt and uncertainty when these convictions seemed eclipsed by an overwhelming sense of divine abandonment could not be denied or ignored.

As study proceeded, however, it soon became obvious that the topic 'The Hiddenness of God' was both too vague to be handled with precision and too broad to be treated with the necessary comprehensiveness. There seemed no adequate criteria for defining the term 'hiddenness' and so no way to mark off the boundaries between what should and should not be included in such a study. Fortunately, the expression 'hide the face' (דлם + םינU05E4) was one of the first to be examined, and with further research it seemed that a thorough analysis of this particular phrase could provide a firm basis from which to approach the more general motif of God's hiddenness.

One of the principal discoveries of the study was that the hiddenness of God, contrary to the impression given by much of biblical scholarship, is not always and in every case to be understood as a manifestation of divine judgement in response to man's sinfulness. Certainly a judgement nuance is present in some contexts, especially in prophetic oracles which specifically link God's hiddenness during the exile with Israel's disobedience. Elsewhere, however, particularly in the Psalms, God's hiding is a subject for lament and protest as innocent suppliants charge that they have done nothing to warrant divine abandonment.

Although this judgement nuance has received considerable exposition by biblical scholars, the implications of the lament concerning an inexplicable divine hiddenness have thus far received inadequate attention. It is just at this point, however, that the motif of God's hiddenness converges with other issues in Old Testament study which have on their own part been the subject of considerable discussion. So, for example, the question about God's hiding his face without just cause raises the . . .

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