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June 04, 2014


Andrew Klager

Thanks for your remarks and questions, Mark.

To answer your first one, yes, Girard and I are basically working from the same blueprint, but his designation of the Hebrew Tanakh as a “text of travail” is, in my limited understanding, more from the human author’s perspective than from God’s. I’m focusing here on both perspectives equally, though perhaps with more of an accent on that with which God is forced to contend.

In terms of your second question, I have no easy answer. My main point, however, is that it is less helpful to begin with David and what’s written about David (or any other king, patriarch, judge, prophet, etc.) and instead begin with Christ as our reliable lens. So, I suppose I’d simply say that whatever in the Hebrew Tanakh aligns with or suggests a trajectory toward Christ’s way of enemy-love, peace, humility, kenosis, and nonviolence is an authentic divine inbreaking into time and space to reveal himself, even if awkwardly in an pre-incarnational, incarnational manner. It is admittedly *much* more complicated than this and more reputable biblical scholars could parse the text better than I, but the point is not so much to mine the Old Testament for clues about who God is (and isn’t) than it is to understand that those OT texts that contradict the one who said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), are not divine self-revelations. This is, for example, a common innate impulse in Judaism, where the human struggle with God (think Jacob) not only betrays the Tanakh as indeed a “text of travail,” but animates the willingness to engage in spirited debates in a yeshiva in which the truth is located somewhere between the many arguments lobbed back-and-forth and extends even into rabbinic Judaism, the Midrash and the Talmud. Our only difference as Christians is that we believe we’ve seen the *full* revelation of God, the trustworthy incarnational divine point-of-reference, the “image of the invisible God” to function as our lens and plumb line.


Thanks for this lovely addition to understanding the scriptures.
I have a couple questions:

1) Do you know much about Rene Girard's perspective that the Hebrew Scriptures are a "text in travail"? Can you make some fruitful comparisons and contrasts between your thesis here and his perspective? Or are you pretty much saying the same thing?

2) Does your thesis leave us with the problem of assuming too quickly that we know what in the OT is a revelation of Christ and what we can see as simply a revelation of our passions?
For example, how much work should I do to accept and understand that King David was "a man after God's own heart"? Can I just say the author didn't properly appreciate David's sinful use of military violence, and so conclude David "wasn't really" a man after God's own heart?
Or maybe conclude that the writer of Hebrew's was wrong to include Jephthah as a faith-hero?

Thanks for further thoughts.

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