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5 years ago  ::  May 24, 2010 - 4:22PM #1
sharktacos
Posts: 244

I am a Christian seminary student interested in learning more about the Jewish faith.


Walter Brueggemann has described the Hebrew Scriptures as having multiple competing "witnesses," different narratives each competing to be the one true description of God. As many have pointed out (Karen Armstrong being a popular example) there is clearly in the Hebrew Scriptures a narrative of the tribal violent warrior God, yet the majority of Jews would describe God as being primarily being a God who is loving and gracious towards all humanity.


 


As a Christian I agree with this, and would also prioritize this narrative of a gracious and loving God as well as the key aspect of God's character, and seek to understand the other narratives within that bigger story. So I am happy to see that there is a commonality here.


Here's my question: In so doing we have both prioritized this narrative of a loving gracious God over the warrior narrative. I agree with this prioritization, yet as a Christian I get to this through the New Testament. I would like to learn how Jews get to the same place as I do without use of the New Testament.


thanks!

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5 years ago  ::  May 27, 2010 - 10:11AM #2
NahumS
Posts: 1,772

Traditional Judaism sees Scripture as one unified narrative that sees the Infinite through many prisms. There are no competing narratives - they complement one another.


The Midrash (a Torah commentary from the 1st century CE that reads betweens the lines of Scripture) said it basically like this: "He appeared to them at the Reed Sea like a man of war, and at Sinai like an elder and a teacher." Meaning that G-d is described according to His actions at a specific event.


The "real" One is beyond our understanding and perception. G-d is no more (and no less) gracious than He is the G-d of vengeance. Justice and mercy are equally His - we appeal to His mercy because we are His children.


Trying to portray G-d at all is fraught with theological difficulties. Portraying Him as a gracious G-d alone seems like pandering to me - the "tame lion" that C. S. Lewis disparaged.


Interestingly enough, when we are instructed by our prophets and sages to imitate G-d, we are bid to imitate His "friendlier" aspects - justice, mercy, kindness, compassion. Vengeance, fury and retribution are best left to Someone Perfect.

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 22, 2011 - 10:01AM #3
jasonjew
Posts: 5

May 24, 2010 -- 4:22PM, sharktacos wrote:

I am a Christian seminary student interested in learning more about the Jewish faith.


Walter Brueggemann has described the Hebrew Scriptures as having multiple competing "witnesses," different narratives each competing to be the one true description of God. As many have pointed out (Karen Armstrong being a popular example) there is clearly in the Hebrew Scriptures a narrative of the tribal violent warrior God, yet the majority of Jews would describe God as being primarily being a God who is loving and gracious towards all humanity.


 


As a Christian I agree with this, and would also prioritize this narrative of a gracious and loving God as well as the key aspect of God's character, and seek to understand the other narratives within that bigger story. So I am happy to see that there is a commonality here.


Here's my question: In so doing we have both prioritized this narrative of a loving gracious God over the warrior narrative. I agree with this prioritization, yet as a Christian I get to this through the New Testament. I would like to learn how Jews get to the same place as I do without use of the New Testament.


thanks!


Basically the description of G-D's "personality" or "attributes" are from our perspective.  Remember G-D exists beyond time, since time is part of creation.  I can say you are angry or happy but not G-D.  He is both at the same time.   Our point of view or mood is based on the event we are going through.  I am happy at a baby's birth but would be sad at that person's funeral.  G-D is at the birth and the funeral at the same time.   So there is no need for prioritizing the way you describe.  The event or moment calls for a particular attribute to manifest itself in our world.   Of course that manifestation is from our limited point of view.  Judaism holds that all events should be seen "as this too is for the good.".   An example would be finding or losing a job.   If I told you how I found my current job the hand of G-D is obvious.   My wife worked with the wife of someone who works here, we happen to meet again at the right time, the interview happens just before they stopped interviewing etc....   The hard part is realizing that a number of years ago when I lost my job due to the dot.com bubble recession and was out of work that was also from G-D and also for the good.  

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