Many people today have strong reactions to the many texts in the Old Testament that depict God acting violently by commanding his people to kill men, women, and children, by exacting vengeance against his enemies, by exercising retributive punishment, and by bringing severe judgment upon people who fail to obey his commandments.
In his book, Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Old Testament’s Violent Portraits of God in Light of the Cross, Greg Boyd deals with the problem of divine violence in the Old Testament. One focus of his study is his effort to understand and explain the many texts in the Old Testament which attribute violence to Yahweh. To Boyd, the violent portrayals of God in the Old Testament must be interpreted in light of the full revelation of God in Christ and his death on the cross. Boyd says that the Old Testament portrays God as a wrathful and jealous God, who orders the slaughter of men, women, and children, In contrast, Jesus teaches a nonviolent message in which he calls his disciples to love their enemies.
Gregory Boyd studies these acts of divine violence in light of the cross. Boyd emphasizes that texts depicting a violent God are not accurate representations of God. These texts show that God is willing to allow fallen and culturally conditioned sinners to do to him what they did to Christ on the cross. Boyd wrote, “portraits of God commanding or engaging in violence were literary crucifixes, mirroring the sin of God’s people that God humbly stooped to bear” (Boyd 2017: 548).
The articles listed below are not an attempt at reviewing Boyd’s book. A review would entail a discussion of many of the issues he addresses in his book. Rather, I want to focus on Boyd’s view of the character of God as presented in his book. This dialogue with Boyd and his book is a work in progress. In the near future I will address several other texts dealing with divine violence and how Boyd deals with these texts.
Studies on Gregory Boyd and the Character of God
NEXT: “Greg Boyd and the Character of God – Part 11 – Jeremiah’s Reinterpretation of the Intergenerational Punishment Statement.”
Other Posts on Gregory Boyd