Cover image for Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation By Joel Lohr

Chosen and Unchosen

Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation

Joel Lohr

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ISBN: 978-1-57506-171-9

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Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures

Chosen and Unchosen

Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation

Joel Lohr

Winner of the 2011 RBY Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies/Société canadienne des études bibliques

 

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  • Table of Contents
Winner of the 2011 RBY Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies/Société canadienne des études bibliques

The God of the Bible favors a national people, Israel, and this is at the cost of the other nations. In fact, not being Israel usually means humiliation or destruction or simply being ignored by God. Reading the text “with the grain” or placing oneself within the chosen’s perspective may seem very well until one considers the unchosen. There is much regarding the unchosen that has not been explored in scholarly research, but in this important work, Lohr attempts to make sense of the question of election and nonelection in the OT as a Christian interpreter and with a concern for the history of interpretation and Jewish-Christian dialogue.

He also corrects a Christian tendency to read election and nonelection as love and damnation, respectively, a perception that is altogether foreign to the OT itself. The unchosen are important to the overall world view of Scripture and, although election entails exclusion, and God’s love for the one people Israel is a love in contrast to others, it does not follow that the unchosen fall outside of the economy of God’s purposes, his workings, or his ways. The unchosen often face important tests of their own and have a responsibility to God and the chosen, however much this idea defies modern-day notions of fairness. It is a central idea of Scripture that already appears in the original call of and promises made to Abram and something that, if ignored, places our larger understanding of God at risk.

Equally important, if contemporary faith communities (both Jewish and Christian) form their understanding of “the other” on a faulty reading of Scripture regarding the unchosen, chaos and hatred can ensue. The political and religious climate of our contemporary world has never presented a more important time to get this matter right. Scholars and students alike are finding Chosen and Unchosen to be an indispensable resource as they mull over these difficult questions.

Preface: Election and Nonelection: Why Bother?

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Part 1: Election in Jewish and Christian Interpretation

Chapter 1. Introducing Election and Nonelection: Christian Interpretation

Theological Dictionaries

Monographs

Old Testament (and Biblical) Theologies

Summary

Chapter 2. Jewish Election Theologies: Exclusion and Disgrace?

Joel S. Kaminsky

David Novak

Michael Wyschogrod

Jon D. Levenson

Conclusion: Jewish Interpretation and the Way Forward

Part 2: Election and Nonelection in the Pentateuch: Test Cases

Chapter 3. Blessing or Curse? Abraham, Election, and the Nations:The Story of King Abimelech

Wives, Sisters, a Righteous Nation, and a God-Fearing King

Conclusion

Chapter 4. An Unchosen Figure Who Saves a People (Exodus 2:1-10)

A Numerous and Special People, a People Promised Land

The Birth, the Hiding, and the Finding

Naming, Ownership, and Adoption

Summary and Conclusion

Chapter 5. Numbers: Balaam and Yhwh’s Irrevocable Love for Israel

Numbers and the Book of Balaam

The Text: Numbers 22-24

Conclusion

Chapter 6. Israel and the Nations in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 4: Allotted to Whom and Why?

Deuteronomy 7: Herem and Election?

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Conclusion

Chapter 7. Chosen and Unchosen: Can Good Come from a God Who Favors?

Putting It Together

Can Good Come from a God Who Favors?

Appendix 1. The Tendency to View Balaam as Sinner

Appendix 2. Herem in the Old Testament: An Overview

Herem as Sacrifice?

Preliminary Observations

Herem as a Divine Command?

Contemporary versus Ancient Sensibilities

A God Who Gets His Hands Dirty?

The Smoking Gun (or Bloody Sword): The Herem Never Happened

Perhaps Judgment?

Conclusion

Bibliography

Indexes

Index of Authors

Index of Scripture

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