God at War: Power in the Exodus Tradition

God at War: Power in the Exodus Tradition

God at War: Power in the Exodus Tradition

God at War: Power in the Exodus Tradition

Synopsis

The destruction of the Egyptian army in the Book of Exodus is the primary story of salvation for Israel; God is the chief combatant in this story. "Yahweh is a warrior!" So goes the victory hymn in Exodus 15:3 after the annihilation of the enemy by Yahweh, marking the importance held by this show of divine power. This unleashing of divine power and its militaristic imagery has long caught the attention of scholars as starkly nationalistic. Thomas B. Dozeman furthers this study by addressing the theological problem of divine power in the Exodus story and, by extension, the Judeo-Christian attempt to deify nationalism by calling its wars holy. He interprets Exodus as liturgy, the Day of Yahweh, celebrating God's defeat of Pharaoh and the ultimate ascendancy of Israelite authority. This liturgy, though, did not remain static, but changed as the national experience of exile changed the practice of Israelite worship. An isolated event evolved into an extended account of salvation history, in which the life of faith becomes a wilderness march to the promised land. Dozeman traces how revisionary embellishments in the plot structure and characters of the Exodus story reflected the new understanding of divine power. By combining literary and historical interpretation this study offers the first serious inquiry into the idea of divine power, and makes a major contribution to resurgent research on the Pentateuch as a whole. No scholar concerned with biblical historiography and its justification of holy wars can afford to ignore this book.

Excerpt

Many colleagues, friends, and institutions have influenced and assisted me in researching and writing this book. The Pentateuch Seminar of the Society of Biblical Literature provided an important context for me to listen to other researchers in the field and to raise new questions about the formation of pentateuchal literature. I would like to thank the members of the seminar and, in particular, the chairpersons (Professors John Van Seters, Rolf Knierim, and George Coats) for their responses to papers and for a lively exchange of ideas during the years 1986-1991. Papers presented at the Catholic Biblical Association in 1991 and 1993, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 1992 and at the Society of Biblical Literature in 1993 on topics of the exodus, wilderness, and law have also provided me with important forums of exchange that have influenced my interpretation of the exodus. I would like to thank these institutions and individuals for their interest in my research and for their critical response.

Much of the research for this book was undertaken while I was on sabbatical leave in Münster, Germany, during the 1992-1993 academic year. I would like to thank my home institution, United Theological Seminary, for approving my leave, and Professor Walter Beyerlin of the Evangelische- Theologische Fakultät of the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität for sponsoring my stay in Germany. The sabbatical was made possible, in part, by a Theological Scholarship and Research Award from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). I would like to thank the ATS for its support, as well as Professors John Van Seters and Rolf Rendtorff for acting as senior mentors in connection with the grant.

Books are slow in coming and their content is influenced by the everyday exchange with colleagues over long periods of time. Many conversations with Professor Kathleen Farmer, my Old Testament colleague . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.