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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.22 n.2 Pretoria  2009


Yahweh conflicted: Unresolved theological tension in the cycle of Judges



Lee Roy Martin

Pentecostal Theological Seminary, USA1





This article explores the theological implications of the well-known cyclical pattern of the book of Judges. Previous approaches (historical critical, sociological, and narrative) have located the cycle within the compositional history of Judges; they have identified the ideological agendas inherent within the elements of the cycle; and they have examined the role of the cycle within the overall structure of the book. Building upon these earlier results, I argue here that the cycle of Judges registers a deep theological tension within the character of Yahweh himself, an irreconcilable conflict between his anger and his compassion. I propose further that the breakdown of the cycle in the latter part of Judges is a manifestation of Yahweh's frustration and his unwillingness to make a final choice between justice and mercy for Israel. I conclude that the tension between Yahweh's anger and his compassion belongs to his disposition as a relational being; therefore, it is a tension that must not be mitigated in our theology.



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Lee Roy Martin
Associate Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages
Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee USA
Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
University of South Africa
P. O. Box 392, Unisa, 0003



1 Lee Roy Martin (DTh UNISA) is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee USA and is a Research Fellow with UNISA.