God and Earthly Power: An Old Testament Political Theology, Genesis-Kings

by J. G. McConville. London/NY: T & T Clark, 2006. 200pp.

The book considers the nature of human power in the light of belief in God. The Bible, and especially the Old Testament, is relevant to the question, not least because perceptions about the use of power in relation to God are often derived correctly or incorrectly from it. This book thus aims to address a world in which God's power is often invoked, from quite different quarters, in order to justify political and military action. The book considers the problem of the particularity of the Old Testament, both in general and in relation to New Testament universality. The interpretation of the Old Testament focuses on Deuteronomy and the narrative in which it is set, because these are especially fruitful for political thinking. The thesis is argued for both exegetically and in relation to the actual use of the Old Testament in the history of political thought. An important argument of the book is that divine power, mediated through Torah, results in human freedom and a mandate for political responsibility. It is even the best guarantee of these. In this connection it is argued that in the biblical understanding of God there is not a link between monotheism and totalitarianism. Contents 1. Reading the Old Testament politically 2. The Old Testament as cultural critique 3. The judge of all the earth: Genesis 4. From tyranny to freedom: Exodus-Numbers 5. A political nation: Deuteronomy 6. Possessing land: Joshua 7. The threat from within: Judges 8. Monarchy: 1 and 2 Samuel 9. What is Israel?: 1 and 2 Kings 10. Conclusion: An Old Testament political theology