Monday 9 February 2009

Elmer A. Martens on (Exodus 5:22-6:8 and) Old Testament Theology

Elmer A. Martens, God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology, 2nd edn. (Leicester: Apollos/Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994).

Martens’ theology of the Old Testament takes its starting-point from Exodus 5:22-6:8 as a pivotal text concerning ‘God’s design’ in a fourfold sense:

• Deliverance
• Covenant community
• Knowledge of God
• Land/blessing

He writes:

‘My claim is that the overarching theme of the Old Testament is God’s design, a design that incorporates four components: deliverance, community, knowledge of God, and the abundant life. The design is articulated at the exodus, implemented and tested in the monarchy, reaffirmed in the post-monarchy period, and continued into the New Testament’ (3).

The first edition of the book was published in 1981. In this second edition, Martens responds to criticisms that his schema ignored creation (which he here links with the more dominant theme of salvation history). He also responds to criticisms of too narrow a focus on Israel as a people by showing how the ‘particular’ (God’s plan for Israel) is related to the ‘universal’ (God’s plan for all nations and for creation).

Insightful and useful though it is is, the schema still tends to marginalise the wisdom tradition…

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