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Author: Eric A. Seibert
ISBN13: 978-0800663445
Title: Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God
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Language: English
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Publisher: Fortress Press; 7.2.2009 edition (October 1, 2009)
Pages: 260

Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God by Eric A. Seibert

Ancient approaches to disturbing divine behavior Defending God's behavior in the Old Testament Understanding the nature of Old Testament narratives Asking the historical question : did it really happen? Concerns about raising the historical question The functions of Old Testament narrative Israel's theological worldview Developing responsible readings of troublesome texts Distinguishing between the textual and actual God : the Amalekites, genocide, and God Evaluating disturbing divine behavior by the God Jesus reveals : toward a christocentric hermeneutic Using problematic passages . .On this site it is impossible to download the book, read the book online or get the contents of a book.

Summary Eric A. Seibert's Disturbing Divine Behavior provides a much-needed dialogue about the disturbing behavior of God in the Old Testament compared to the loving God presented in the New Testament.

Disturbing Divine Behavior addresses these perennially vexing questions for the student of the Bible. Eric A. Seibert calls for an engaged and discerning reading of the Old Testament that distinguishes the particular literary and theological goals achieved through narrative characterizations of God from the rich understanding of the divine to which the Old Testament as a whole points. Very good book on dealing with troubling images of God from the Old Testament. I am not sure that it goes quite far enough in calling divine violence into question (Seibert leaves open the possibility of eschatalogical violence with the caveat that this kind of violence would not mean that God was violent in the here and now, thus securing the idea of God's present nonviolence), but it definitely gets the conversation going in the right.

Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them. 1. Doubting Jesus' Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box? Kris D Komarnitsky.

Eric Seibert is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College. His new book, Disturbing Divine Behavior, contains a prologue, an introduction, three major parts, an epilogue, two appendixes, notes, bibliography, an index of biblical texts, and an index of modern authors. In Part 1, "Examining the Problem of Disturbing Divine Behavior," Seibert describes OT texts that he sees as containing problematic portrayals of God (chap. 1). He identifies groups of people for whom these portrayals constitute a problem (chap. Although Seibert can be commended on some counts, including his willingness to address directly a real challenge in OT study and his stated desire to honor the OT as authoritative Scripture (pp. 5, 41), I found his argument neither logical nor compelling.

Author: Eric A. Seibert. AN OLD TESTAMENT THEOLOGY OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD An Old Testament Theology of the Spirit of God WILF HILDEBRANDT rfcl. Contours of Old Testament Theology Proverbs (Old Testament Guides).

Disturbing Divine habit addresses those perennially vexing questions for the coed of the Bible. Seibert demands an engaged and discerning studying of the previous testomony that distinguishes the actual literary and theological ambitions completed via narrative characterizations of God from the wealthy figuring out of the divine to which the outdated testomony as an entire issues. supplying illuminating reflections on theological analyzing to boot, this ebook should be a welcome source for any readers who. puzzle over tense representations of God within the Bible.

It struggles with the portrayal of God in his dealings with man in scripture. The questions addressed are the inspiration of the Bible, what is meant or intended and why Christians view scripture as something more than evidence seems to support. I'd say you could read the whole thing in less than 15 minutes and come away with real sense of having learned something. Certianly Christianity would be a far easier "sell" without the OT and that was basically his view. OT/NT same god same problems. The early Gnostic Christians believe that the God of the OT was the evil one, resorting to violence when ever he was dissatisfied. I can imagine how heated the arguments must have gotten in the first three centuries.

Reviews: 7
Readers of the Bible expect to encounter stories of human beings behaving badly, but they are sometimes taken aback by stories depicting God behaving badly. In the Old Testament, there are approximately 1,000 passages that speak of Yahweh’s anger, threats, punishments, revenge, and killing. “No other topic is as often mentioned as God’s bloody works.”

Eric Seibert, an associate professor of Old Testament, calls the troubling or dark side of God “disturbing divine behavior.” Some Christians who view God’s character as immensely merciful, just and compassionate find it troubling when they encounter God who could also be so merciless, vengeful, violent, not to mention unjust in the mass killing of children for the sins of their parents. This book was written for those who are perplexed by and struggle with the apparent contradictions in God’s character, while.those who see no contradictions probably won't enjoy it. Seibert wrote the book to make sense of the contradictions and “to help people think as accurately as possible about God.”

“Who are you to second-guess God?” say those who believe in Biblical inerrancy. Seibert believes Christians should be encouraged, not discouraged, to ask hard questions about God. The Old Testament provides a model of questioning God, with Abraham, for instance, debating with him about destroying Sodom. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Abraham asks when arguing that innocent should not be killed along with the guilty. (Gen 18:25) Moses also argued with God about destroying Israel after Aaron made a golden calf, and God changed his mind. (Ex 32:11-14) In short, “there’s nothing inherently wrong with raising questions about God’s behavior in the Old Testament.” Nor is questioning the accuracy of some parts of the Old Testament inconsistent “with affirming scripture’s inspiration and authority.”

Seibert provides a long description of disturbing divine behavior. Many readers already know about the genocide the Lord ordered the Israelites to commit on the seven nations in the Promised Land, “utterly destroying anything that breathes. Show them no mercy.” (Deut 7:1-2) Joshua reports carrying out the divine orders. (Josh 10:40)

The rationale given for this genocide is that “so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods.” (Deut 20:18) At least a few readers might find genocide to be a disproportionate and extreme response to this perceived threat. In addition to genocide, there are many other examples of divine behavior that can lead readers to ask what the behavior says about the character of God:

+ God reportedly gave Moses 613 laws, with death required for fortune telling, cursing one’s parents, adultery, homosexual acts, bestiality and blasphemy, among other things. One man found out the hard way that picking up sticks on the Sabbath also meant death. He was brought before Moses. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.’” Which is exactly what happened. (Num 15:32-36)

+ Yahweh personally executed individuals on three occasions:
two sons of Judah, Er and Onan, whom He had found to be “wicked” and “displeasing” (Genesis 38); two novice rabbis – Nadab and Abihu - who committed a single ritual offense of making an “unholy fire” (Leviticus 10:1-2); and a man named Uzzah who had reached up to steady the ark of the covenant when it was being transported; he was instantly struck dead by God. (2 Sam 6:7)

+ Yahweh also engaged in mass killing, most notably when the great flood wiped out nearly all of humanity, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a rain of sulfur and fire, when all the firstborn children in Egypt were killed to punish the Pharaoh. (Ex 12:29)
during 40 years in the wilderness, when Yahweh sent plagues that killed hundreds of thousands of Israelites (Numbers 26:65; 21:6; 16:46, 49; 14:36-37), and when the Lord sent a pestilence in Israel to punish King David for taking a census, killing 70 thousand. (2Sam 24:15), even though God had incited David to take the census.

+ Yahweh was an afflicter. Saul sinned, for example, and “the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1Sam16:14). When the Israelites tried to flee Egypt, God repeatedly hardened the Pharaoh’s heart so he refused to allow the departure, while God inflicted 10 plagues on the land. Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil,” yet was subjected by God to horrible afflictions. After Job suffers one tragedy after another, God says, “He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” (2:3)

What kind of God destroys an innocent man and kills his children and servants “for no reason”? How does one reconcile the God of the Old Testament with loving enemies, turning the other cheek, and doing unto others as we would have them to do us? Those who would deny any conflict don’t want to see it.

There are two ways Christians can deal with the contradictions: 1) We can simply say, “when God does it, that makes it moral,” even though we think bashing babies heads against the rocks is grossly immoral any other time, or 2) We can decide we cannot accept a literal reading of the Bible and still worship God, so we discard literalism. Seibert opts for the second option.

We shouldn’t have to defend genocide and mass killing of children to punish their parents. It’s appropriate we know war crimes are wrong. We are correct that the hyper-violent depiction of God conflicts with our image of who God is. The questionable passages are likely war propaganda, written generations after the purported events. Seibert contends the Old Testament descriptions of genocide are historically inaccurate. Archeological evidence and biblical passages indicate the Canaanites were not annihilated the way Joshua claims.

So how can Christians know what God is really like? Seibert carefully considers the alternatives before finding a solution. The New Testament tells us that in Jesus, we get the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), and a revelation of God that surpasses anything offered in the Old Testament (Heb 1:1-3). Jesus said, “anyone who has seen me has seen the father.”(John 14:9) What about the extreme, punitive violence by Jesus described in Revelations? Seibert responds “that the God Jesus reveals is know though Jesus’ life and teachings while on earth, not descriptions of Jesus’ supposed behavior at the end time.”

Consequently, Seibert recommends that Christ-followers rely upon the forgiving, non-violent image of Jesus to understand the character of God. It means applying a “christocentric hermaneutic” to problematic passages, by which violent depictions of God are rejected. There are still useful, constructive lessons to be learned from disturbing passages by discerning readers.

The author understands that a believer’s view about God’s role in writing Scripture determines how that individual perceives disturbing divine depictions. Those who see God as the author, and writers as simply the instruments, usually accept that everything in the Bible must be accurate. Those who see God’s role as inspiring, rather than dictating to, the writers, find it easier to recognize that human error was inevitable.

In sum, Disturbing Divine Behavior explains why Christ followers should not redefine evil as good in trying to justify behaviors that are grossly immoral. One need not agree with everything in this book to recognize Seibert’s careful scholarship and clear analysis of how to know divine character. ### .
Eric A. Seibert is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Messiah College and author of Subversive Scribes and the Solomonic Narrative. Being qualified in Old Testament literature, Seibert's most recent book, Disturbing Divine Behavior, addresses the troubling images attributed to God in the Hebrew Scriptures. As Seibert beings questioning God's behavior, he picks up the abandoned mantle as he wrestles with these texts. Contrary to contemporary Evangelicalism, Seibert resolves to confront and explain these troubling passages in order to liberate Christians "from the need to defend all of `God's actions' in the Old Testament," (p 179).Implementing a new methodology to properly understand these texts, Seibert promotes a Christological approach to the Old Testament. Using the statements of Jesus to qualify who the actual God of the Old Testament is, he believes this is the key to a proper hermeneutic.

Summary Thesis
In the first section of his book, Seibert highlights problematic passages from Genesis, Numbers, 2 Samuel along with many others which depict God as a mass murderer, a genocidal general and a dangerous abuser. The concern of the believer should be on high alert since the ramifications of these passages not only affect core Christian doctrine, but are "problematic for individuals from all walks of life," (p. 51) Seibert explains the diverse methodologies implemented by the Church to resolve this problematic issue, yet he rejects them all, claiming that they fall terribly short of what the scriptures truly communicate (see p 53-88)
In section two of his book, Seibert begins by introducing his own methodology in attempting to explain the God who is revealed in the Old Testament. He begins by undermining the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. Claiming that they are in conflict with history and archeology, he calls Christians to abandon the notion of true historicity in the Old Testament. Seibert claims that Old Testament narrative was used to promote a political agenda or to give an explanation for events in nature. The primary thrust of the narrative was to communicate a message, but not to render facts of history. Therefore, "some of the things Old Testament narratives claim happened never did," (p. 112). Seibert then begins to encourage an "alternate approach to dealing with disturbing divine behavior," (p. 128).
To support his understanding of the Old Testament, Seibert explains Israel's worldview and their assumptions regarding God's control over the natural world, fortunes and misfortunes, and punishments, (see p 145-161). It is for this reason that God is depicted as a judging, unethical, war-lord. The Scriptures are merely national Israel's attempt to "explain what God was doing and why," (p. 162) However, just as mankind has now abandoned the Israelite worldview of cosmology and polygamy, it is time we "advance beyond this prescientific worldview" and abandon the notion that the Old Testament truly depicts the God of this world (p. 163)
With the divine authority of the Old Testament nullified, Seibert still claims that there is a positive and accurate revelation of God in the Old Testament (see p 213-15) To properly differentiate between the actual God and the textual God of the Israelites, Christians must engage in a "dual hermeneutic." This is done by comparing God, as revealed by Jesus, to the one described in the Old Testament. Only those traits in the Old Testament which consistently mirror Jesus' New Testament revelation are to be adopted as valid and a true reflection of God's nature. "God's moral character is most clearly and completely revealed through the person of Jesus," (p. 185).
While Seibert quickly admits that Jesus, too, spoke of judgements and eternal damnation, he excuses this by claiming that the New Testament has "distortions between the textual Jesus and the actual Jesus," (p 187). Still, Jesus' revelation is more authoritative and accurate. Seibert claims that Jesus rejected "the notion that all tragedies are the direct result of divine judgement," and that He taught a non-violent approach to life (p 201). This proves that "applying a christocentric hermeneutic to our reading of the Old Testament requires us to say that, regardless of the text's claims, God never commanded the Israelites to commit genocide by slaughtering Canaanites or annihilating Amalekites," (p. 204) Seibert concludes his book by encouraging his audience to communicate this approach to the scriptures in their churches and academic circles in order to liberate Christians from the need to justify the God of the Old Testament.

Whether or not one agrees with Seibert's approach to the Old Testament text, Christians cannot dismiss his effort on addressing this very challenging issue. Since most Evangelicals hold to a verbal plenary view of inspiration, we can no longer ignore the tension between God of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus. One major strength of Seibert's book is his bold address on these difficult issues as he picks up this mantle and contributes to a much-needed theology on God in the Old Testament.
Another strength of Seibert's work is his use of contextualization when reading the scriptures. Since one of Seibert's essential points is to undermine Israel's theological worldview, he speaks about the need to contextualize their statements in light of common ANE beliefs. While I do not believe this proves his conclusion, which imposes a "dual hermeneutic" and nullifies Old Testament theology, contextualization is an important practice which sheds light on the historical background of the scriptures. Without contextualization, a lot of beauty in the Hebrew scriptures would be lost and reinterpreted in a 21st century context.
A third strength of Seibert is his willingness to impose a dual hermeneutic approach in lieu of abandoning the entire Old Testament. Though I do not agree with his approach to the scriptures or his new methodology, it is encouraging that he at least retains a certain commitment to the authority of the Old Testament. Claiming not to be as pessimistic as those who are "convinced that the Old Testament portrayals of God are virtually useless for Christian theology," Seibert still finds value in an inaccurate Old Testament (p. 180).

Seibert's book has many weaknesses, particularly in the section regarding his methodology. The first flaw is his inconsistent Christocentric approach. Though he states that Jesus' revelation of God gives us concrete guidelines to the Old Testament and prevents us "from simply making choices based on our own preferences," he simultaneously acknowledges that one form of Jesus in the New Testament is inaccurate (p. 185). Agreeing that "some portrayals of Jesus in the Gospel do not reflect what Jesus actually said or did," one must question how to qualify the real Jesus in order to properly understand the real God of the Old Testament (p. 187). Using Seibert's subjective methodology, it would be just as justifiable to claim that God is a God of hatred and anger by highlighting the statements which reflect this, and dismiss all other statements regarding love and forgiveness. Seibert's first weakness is his lack of guidelines to properly implement his methodology onto the scriptures.
Seibert's second flaw is his argumentation from silence. Claiming that Jesus is revealing a new God in the New Testament, Seibert substantiates his claim by saying that "Jesus never speaks of God as one who commands genocide. Nor does he describe God as one who abuses, deceives, or acts unjustly. These unsavory characteristics which are evident in certain Old Testament portrayals of God do not factor into Jesus' description of God," (p. 190). However, just because Jesus did not reiterate all aspects of God from the Old Testament does not mean that He rejects the reality of them. Instead, Jesus frequently appealed to the authority of the Old Testament, identifying Himself with the God of Israel (Jn 8:58). Also, when speaking with people, He assumed they already had a certain amount of knowledge of the scriptures (Matt 5:17; Luke 23:13-32). Jesus is building on the Old Testament understanding of God rather than creating a new one.
A third flaw in Seibert's book is his approach to Jesus' eschatological statements. Since Seibert is attempting to depict Jesus as a pacifist, he attempts to dismiss problem passages which record Jesus speaking about a pending judgement (Matt. 10:11-15; 11:20-24) and eternal damnation (Matt. 8:11-12; 13:41-42; 18:9). In order to juxtapose these verses with his understanding of Jesus, Seibert claims that God still remains non-violent since these judgements are "outside the space-time continuum [and] only for a limited period of time...Therefore, it is still possible to maintain that the God Jesus reveals acts nonviolently in historical time," (p 253-54). First, it is very difficult to understand how Seibert developed this notion of "space-time continuum" which would exempt God from any actions. This explanation seems random, evasive, and unsatisfactory. Second, this approach defies the second presupposition of his book which "assumes the consistency of God's character," (p. 186). If God defies His own actions outside of the space-time continuum, God is still inconsistent and destroys Seibert's presupposition.
A fourth flaw found in Seibert's defense is in his appendix where he speaks about the book of Revelation and the war predicted in there. Promoting a non-violent God, he states that "numerous interpreters have argued that what is being described [in Revelation] is not a literal battle but rather a symbolic victory over evil. This interpretive approach makes good sense given the genre of Revelation," (p. 256). While this approach is common, it is surprising that he resorts to this understanding since, earlier in his book, he critiques the hermeneutic of allegorization, saying that "most modern readers find Origen's allegorical readings quote fanciful. This is not surprising since the Achilles heel of the allegorical method is the lack of controls governing how correlations are made between details in the texts and the meanings assigned to them," (p. 64). Seibert employed a hermeneutic he himself earlier dismissed as too subjective. Seibert's lack of consistency when implementing this new methodology is disconcerting.

Eric A. Seibert's Disturbing Divine Behavior provides a much-needed dialogue about the disturbing behavior of God in the Old Testament compared to the loving God presented in the New Testament. Abandoning previous attempts at explaining this dilemma, Seibert introduces a dual hermeneutic of the Old Testament God. Undermining the authority of Israel's theological worldview and scripture, Seibert encourages a Christological approach to the Old Testament which would teach those scriptures pertain to the actual God. Seibert's approach is new and innovative, yet unconvincing. Within his methodology, there remain too many conjectures and presuppositions for this to be a proper approach. In order to substantiate his point, Seibert makes arguments from silence as well as jeopardizes his own hermeneutical principles through allegorizing the book of Revelation.
While I appreciate Seibert's attempt in tackling this issue, there are too many loop holes in the solution he is proposing. Instead, may Christians take up the challenge to view God in the Old Testament in a serious light, and begin wrestling with the implications of His actions. Affirming the view of verbal plenary inspiration, God has communicated His Word for a reason, and we must study to understand Him more (2 Tim. 2:15).