Wright on the Strange Story of Israel

“Whether you read the Old Testament as set out in most English Bibles from Genesis to Malachi or whether you read it in the Hebrew canon from Genesis  to Chronicles with the prophets in the middle, you are still left with a sense that this story is supposed to be going somewhere, but that it hasn’t gotten there yet… What’s more, the story seems to have become badly stalled. It isn’t so much like the story of a journey in which the travelers have almost reached their destination and need merely to walk the last few miles down a gentle slope to arrive in fine style. It is more like the story of a journey in which the travelers have misread the map, lost their way, and become stuck in quicksand with hostile troops closing in around them. That , I suggest, is the impression we might get if we read straight through the Old Testament: great beginnings and wonderful visions of God’s plan and purposes, then a steady decline and puzzling and shameful multiple failures, all ending in a question mark. Just as Genesis 1-3 tell the story of the human plight through the pattern of glorious beginnings, rich vocations, and then horrible failure and exile, so Genesis 12 through to the end of Chronicles or Malachi tell the story of Israel with tales of glorious beginnings, rich vocations, and then horrible failure and exile. Indeed, whoever put Genesis 1-3 into its present from was undoubtedly aware of, and undoubtedly intended, that resonance to be fully heard.”

-N.T. Wright, How God Became King, 66.

About mjbutterworth

Coffee. Books. Bicycles.
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