What do we do with a God who sanctions violence?
Old Testament violence proves one of the most troubling topics in the Bible. Too often, the explanations for the brutality in Scripture fail to adequately illustrate why God would sanction such horrors on humanity. These unanswered questions leave readers frustrated and confused, leading some to even walk away from their faith.
In Flood and Fury, Old Testament scholar Matthew Lynch approaches two of the most violent passages in the Old Testament—the Flood and the Canaanite conquest—and offers a way forward that doesn’t require softening or ignoring the most troubling aspects of these stories. While acknowledging the persistent challenge of violence in Scripture, Flood and Fury contends that reading with the grain of the text yields surprising insights into the goodness and the mercy of God. Through his exploration of themes related to violence including misogyny, racism, and nationalism, Lynch shows that these violent stories illuminate significant theological insights that we might miss with a surface reading.
Flood and Fury challenges us to let go of the need to rescue the Old Testament from itself and listen afresh to its own critiques on violence.
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Matt Lynch writes for a popular audience without dumbing down the problem of violence or providing pat answers. He invites readers to contextualize scriptural texts within a large vision of creation’s shalom, the hermeneutics of reading biblical narratives alongside historical questions, and the whole canon’s revelation of God’s good character. Lynch’s work travels new and illuminating ground. For those troubled by these texts, Lynch models pastorally honest and attentive reading that contributes to a richer understanding of the biblical narrative, God’s good design for his creation, and the ways these texts intersect with present-day realities. A recommended read!
—Lissa M. Wray Beal, professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College
Flood and Fury helps Christians to see what violence is doing in their Scriptures—even in the mouth of Jesus! Lynch helps us to navigate the Bible’s grammar of violence as people who are thankfully estranged from systemic and brute use of force. Like few scholars can, Lynch plainly maps how the New Testament authors engage the violence of the Old Testament as fruitful for the coming kingdom. Of the myriad books on violence in Scripture, Lynch marries his scholarly work with his winsome writing so that the church can properly wrestle with what the biblical texts say about human and divine violence.
—Dru Johnson, associate professor of biblical studies at The King’s College
Matt Lynch is an able guide to these difficult Old Testament texts. He carefully unravels the caricatures of these texts to make way for a faithful alternative. Lynch weaves personal stories with close readings of biblical texts to offer fresh perspective. I heartily recommend his work!
—Carmen Joy Imes, associate professor of Old Testament at Biola University and author of Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters
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