Apr 3, 2017

The Center of the Old Testament

Trying to identify a center for Old Testament has proven to be a daunting task. In a recent article, Richard Davidson notes that he has identified 28 different centers and has added his own seven-fold multiplex suggestion to the pile.[1] The article itself does not provide the list but in an earlier work he lists the following 50 which presumably includes the aforementioned 28.[2]
  1. Covenant (Walter Eichrodt)
  2. God as Lord (Ludwig Köhler)
  3. Holiness of God (Ernst Sellin)
  4. The “experience of God” (O. J. Baab)
  5. Communion (Theodorus C. Vriezen)
  6. Christ (Henry L. Ellison and J. Alec Motyer)
  7. God-Man-Salvation (George A. F. Knight)
  8. Israel’s election as the people of God (Hans Wildberger and Horst D. Preuss)
  9. No center (the early Gerhard von Rad and G. Ernest Wright)
  10. Yahweh, with the Deuteronomistic theology of history as the secret center (the later Gerhard von Rad)
  11. Covenant-kingdom (Rudolph Schnackenburg)
  12. Rulership of God (Horst Seebass)
  13. Heilsgeschichte, or Salvation History (Oscar Cullmann)
  14. The rule of God and communion between God and man (Georg Fohrer)
  15. Covenant of Sinai and covenant of David (Frederick Prussner)
  16. The exclusiveness of God (W. H. Schmidt)
  17. The Kingdom of God (Günther Klein)
  18. Yahweh the God of Israel; Israel the people of Yahweh (Rudolf Smend)19
  19. The book of Deuteronomy (Siegfried Herrmann)
  20. “I am Yahweh your God”: First Commandment (Walther Zimmerli)
  21. God as the dynamic unifying center (Gerhard Hasel)
  22. Creation faith (H. H. Schmid)
  23. The atoning work of Christ (J. Sidlow Baxter)
  24. Promise-blessing (Walter Kaiser, Jr.)
  25. A multiplex center “expressed diagrammatically by an elliptical cylinder. The center is Christ; the foci are God (Yahweh) and people (Israel); concentric layers of the cylinder are election, promise, covenant, kingdom, etc.; and the length of the cylinder is the time in which Israel experienced God in history” (D. F. Baker)
  26. The dialectic of law and promise (Ronald E. Clements)
  27. The elusive presence of God, with a dialectic of the ethical and aesthetic (Samuel Terrien)
  28. The dialectic of deliverance and blessing (Claus Westermann)
  29. The dialectic of providence and election (the earlier Walter Brueggemann)
  30. God’s design (plan and purposes), involving a fourfold center of deliverance, community, knowledge of God, and abundant life (Elmer A. Martens)
  31. Righteousness and justice (Rolf Knierim)
  32. Messianic eschatology (John Sailhamer)
  33. Righteousness (Walter Dietrich)
  34. Covenant and the new creation (Graeme Goldsworthy)
  35. A drama with five acts—creation, sin, Israel, Christ, church (N. T. Wright)
  36. The courtroom trial metaphor/imagery: legal claims—testimony, dispute, advocacy—asserted for Yahweh, God of Israel (the later Walter Brueggemann)
  37. Warfare worldview and theodicy (Gregory Boyd)
  38. Monotheism—the existence and worship of one God (Paul R. House)
  39. God’s steadfast love (Hermann Spieckermann)
  40. Geography and genealogy, dominion and dynasty (Stephen G. Dempster)
  41. God’s order, God’s servant, God’s people, and God’s way (Charles H. H. Scobie)
  42. God’s mission—announcing His kingdom (Arthur F. Glasser)
  43. The hermeneutics of grace (J. Clinton McCann, Jr.)
  44. A drama with six acts (Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen)
  45. The paradigmatic story of Israel—sin, exile, restoration (C. Marvin Pate et al.)
  46. The mission of God (Christopher J. H. Wright)
  47. The sovereign reign of God through human agency (Eugene H. Merrill)
  48. The glory of God in salvation through judgment (James Hamilton)
  49. The “in-breaking of God’s rule” (Bruce Waltke)
  50. The sanctuary/temple (Roberto Ouro)
[1] “The Legacy of Gerhard Hasel’s Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate Revealed in Old Testament Scholarship of the Last Four Decades,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 26 (2015): 15.

[2] Richard M. Davidson, “Back to the Beginning: Genesis 1–3 and the Theological Center of Scripture, in Christ, Salvation, and the Eschaton: Essays in Honor of Hans K. LaRondelle, ed. Jiří Moskala (Berrien Springs, MI: Old Testament Department, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, 2009), 5-9.

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