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The God of the Old Testament

Encountering the Divine in Christian Scripture

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Old Testament theologian Walter Moberly is known for his creative, accessible, and provocative writing. This book, written in a vein similar to his well-received Old Testament Theology, combines biblical criticism with constructive theology and engages both Jewish and Christian interpretations. It demonstrates how to read the Old Testament in ways that are academically rigorous and that also contribute to its use in contemporary Christian thought and practice.

Moberly offers robust readings of eight pivotal Old Testament passages that unpack the nature of God in Christian Scripture. These passages form some of the basic "grammar" of the Bible's portrayal of God and humanity. Suitable as a supplementary text for Old Testament theology and interpretation courses, this book presents a Christian approach to reading the Old Testament that holds together the priorities of both scholarship and faith.

1. The Wise God: The Depths of Creation in Proverbs 8
2. The Mysterious God: The Voice from the Fire in Exodus 3
3. The Just God: The Nature of Deity in Psalm 82
4. The Inscrutable God: Divine Differentials and Human Choosing in Genesis 4
5. The Only God: Surprising Universality and Particularity in 2 Kings 5
6. The Trustworthy God: Assurance and Warning in Psalm 46, Jeremiah 7, and Micah 3


"There simply is no better close reader than Walter Moberly. Immensely learned, he has a scholarly range that stretches over centuries and a sensitivity to contemporary pop culture. Above all, he keeps in the foreground the perennial need for Christians to read Scripture both imaginatively and accurately as a guide for moral discernment. In any generation there may be no more than a few scholars of his caliber, and it is largely due to them that Israel's Scriptures remain at the center of the church's life."

Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School

"These graceful and pellucid essays, informed by their distinguished author's impressive learning and his gentle and generous Christian commitments, shed precious light on what is perhaps the most important subject in the study of the Scriptures--the nature of the God to whom they testify. I recommend the book highly."

Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard University

"Walter Moberly is one of the most gifted theological interpreters of the Old Testament in our day. In this deeply thoughtful work he offers several examples of what key biblical texts might look like when read with deep sensitivity to their underlying subject matter, the God of Israel. The remarkable attention to the grammar and literary form of the texts he has chosen will allow readers not only to follow the exegetical logic that animates Moberly but also to form their own judgments. Whether or not one agrees with all of the points made therein, the process of following Moberly on his journey will certainly be a pedagogical boon for the reader."

Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Thought, University of Notre Dame

"In The God of the Old Testament, R. W. L. Moberly guides readers through a series of textual journeys toward the biblical God. He chooses passages wisely, analyzes them with sensitivity, and presents the results lucidly. Alert to the ways multiple contexts produce readings that challenge, complement, and enrich each other, he describes the tensions between Scripture's one God and the privileged human points of access that (according to Scripture) lead to that God. Reading as a Christian, Moberly produces a work that is capacious precisely because it is firmly rooted. Jewish, Christian, and secular readers will profit from his discerning and balanced discussion."

Benjamin D. Sommer, professor of Bible, The Jewish Theological Seminary; senior fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

"Decisions, decisions, decisions. In a time when much of the focus is on assumptions (and rightly so), Moberly reminds us that the tasks of biblical interpretation and theology consist of a series of decisions over hermeneutical, existential, and theological matters. Moberly demonstrates each step and turn he makes in reading the Old Testament theologically so that readers can learn how to navigate its texts themselves, and in so doing more fully know the God revealed in its pages. Students, biblical scholars, and theologians will greatly benefit from this work."

Bo H. Lim, associate professor of Old Testament, Seattle Pacific University

"With an ecumenically sensitive ear, Moberly articulates a vision of God--and thus of humanity--discerned in Israel's Scriptures that is wholly consistent with Christian theology and practice. As one of the most accomplished exegetical theologians of our day, he demonstrates how to navigate the variety of philological, historical, and literary approaches available, while reading with the benefit of a rule of faith. In six exegetically and hermeneutically rich chapters, The God of the Old Testament unveils a 'grammar' of God common to Jews and Christians, which people of faith are called to reveal and instantiate in their own lives, within their respective traditions."

Claire Mathews McGinnis, Loyola University Maryland

The Author

  1. R. W. L. Moberly

    R. W. L. Moberly

    R. W. L. Moberly (PhD, University of Cambridge) is professor of theology and biblical interpretation at Durham University, where he has taught for more than thirty years. He is the author of numerous books, including Old Testament Theology, The Bible...

    Continue reading about R. W. L. Moberly


"In this cogent work of biblical criticism, [Moberly] analyzes Old Testament scriptures that, through creative hermeneutical interpretations, qualifies them theologically as fully consistent with Christian scripture. . . . Replete with the ideas of thinkers throughout history, such as Erasmus and Pascal, as well as contemporary scholars like Robert Carroll, John Gray, and Thomas Nagel, Moberly explores many diverse, novel interpretations of Old Testament lessons in light of Christian scripture. Any Christian scholar of the Old Testament will find persuasive ideas here."

Publishers Weekly

"Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, The God of the Old Testament: Encountering the Divine in Christian Scripture is an extraordinary, inspired, and inspiring study that is especially recommended for personal, professional, community, church, seminary, college, and university library Old Testament Studies collections."

Wisconsin Bookwatch