Monday, December 21, 2009

Millard Lind on the Theopolitics of Israel's Warrior God

"The thesis of the following chapters is that the issue of Israel's history did not lie in the tension between 'myth' and 'history' but in the question of how 'myth' related to 'history.' In Israel's foundational event, the exodus, Yahweh the divine warrior overcame Egypt, not by means of human warfare, but by means of a prophetic personality who heralded a message brought to pass by miracle. There was, indeed, human activity, but it was the action of a prophet, not a warrior.

"Nor did the tension lie between two ancient institutions of Israel, the Sinai covenant and warfare; rather it was caused by an event that had happened within warfare itself, the escape from Egypt by prophetic agitation and miracle. This event, occurring within the institution of warfare, provided the basis for the new structure of the Sinai covenant, the rule of Yahweh founded upon Torah and prophetic word. The central issue of Israel's self-understanding therefore was Yahweh's relation to history through Torah and prophetic word, as brought into tension with Near Eastern myth where the gods were related to history through the coercive structures of kingship law and military power. This tension between the 'prophetic structure' of Israel and the 'kingship structures' of her neighbors is not only intrinsically evident in much of Israel's literature, but is specifically stated by that literature, as we shall see."

--Millard Lind, Yahweh is a Warrior: The Theology of Warfare in Ancient Israel (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1980), 32-33

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