Renowned pastor-theologian Gregory A. Boyd proposes a revolutionary way to read the Bible in this epic but accessible study. His “cruciform hermeneutic” stands as a challenge to the field of biblical studies and to all thoughtful Christians.
A dramatic tension confronts every Christian believer and interpreter of Scripture: on the one hand, we encounter Old Testament stories of God commanding horrendous violence. On the other hand, we read the unequivocally nonviolent teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Reconciling these two has challenged Christians and theologians for two millennia.
Throughout Christian history, various answers have been proposed, ranging from the long-rejected explanation that these contrasting depictions are of two entirely different “gods” to recent social, cultural, and literary theories that attempt to dispel the conflict.
The Crucifixion of the Warrior God takes up this dramatic tension and the range of proposed answers in an ambitious constructive investigation. Over two volumes, Gregory A. Boyd argues that we must take seriously the full range of Scripture as inspired, including its violent depictions of God. At the same time, he affirms the absolute centrality of the crucified and risen Christ as the supreme revelation of God.
Developing a theological interpretation of Scripture that he labels a “cruciform hermeneutic,” Boyd demonstrates how the Bible’s violent images of God are reframed and their violence subverted when interpreted through the lens of the cross and resurrection. Indeed, when read in this way, Boyd argues that these violent depictions bear witness to the same self-sacrificial nature of God that was ultimately revealed on the cross.
“Rather, I will argue that because God supremely values authentic agape-love relationships, and because he does not want to dehumanize people, he relies on influential rather than coercive power to accomplish his purposes. For this reason, I submit, God had to accommodate his self-revelation to the spiritual state and cultural conditioning of his people in the ages leading up to Christ. Only gradually could God change people’s hearts and minds so that they could receive more and more truth about his true character and about his ideal will for them. And whenever God’s people have come to understand more about his true character and will, they have always been able to look back and find divinely intended meanings in earlier writings that the original authors could not have perceived.” (Page xxxv)
“Their response is puzzling until we realize that when Jesus read this passage, he stopped just before its final clause. This clause adds that the anointed one would declare ‘the day of vengeance of our God.’ To many first century Jews, this clause was the punch line. The most important thing the divinely empowered messiah was supposed to do was to deliver on the covenant’s promise of military victory. For them, to announce the day of the Lord’s favor toward Israel, his ‘treasured possession,’ was synonymous with announcing the day of the Lord’s vengeance against all who opposed Israel.” (Page 88)
“For the essence of faith in Scripture is not about blind submission to authoritative traditions or the quest for psychological certainty. It is rather an ‘Israelite’ faith in which the depth of a person’s faith in God is sometimes reflected precisely in their willingness to authentically ‘wrestle’ with him.” (Page 13)
What Gregory A. Boyd does in The Crucifixion of the Warrior God is nothing less than a stunning reimagination of how to read the Bible afresh through the cross of Jesus.
—Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary
Gregory A. Boyd has written an impressive work: theologically alert, careful and thorough in its treatment of many difficult texts, comprehensively referenced, and moving in depth through both testaments. It deserves wide attention from readers across theological disciplines.
—Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary
In this evocative new book, Gregory A. Boyd has taken the canonicity of Scripture seriously, avoiding both the pitfalls of Marcionism and Christomonism, and articulated what promises to reset the conversation around Scripture and violence.
—Myles Werntz, Hardin-Simmons University
The phrase ‘magnum opus’ and the term ‘magisterial’ truly apply to this two-volume work—for this is Gregory A. Boyd’s voluminous gift to the church as well as to the contemporary theological enterprise. I predict that these volumes will quickly take their place as must-reads for Christian exegetes and theologians of all stripes.
—William Hamilton Barnes, University of Minnesota
This is a most welcome and daring study that may indeed change the terms of our ongoing wonderment about how to read scripture and how to trust and obey the God who dwells therein.
—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
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