There are those who question the possibility of even a biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments. In this exciting, new, and original book Neil MacDonald seeks to put back on the theological agenda not merely a biblical theology, but a systematic theology, of the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, he believes that it is only by understanding the Old and New Testaments in terms of the identity of the God of Israel – and the historical man Jesus of Nazareth – that systematic theology at its most persuasive and compelling can be done.
“Illocutionary acts are acts performed by way of locutionary acts.” (Page 4)
“‘In its primary sense, rationality is a normative concept that philosophers have generally tried to characterize in such a way that, for any action, belief, or desire, if it is rational we ought to choose it.’” (Pages xx–xxi)
“God determines himself to be the creator of all things.” (Page 27)
“This means that God creates whatever is necessary for the existence of events other than himself. Since events necessarily have duration this implies the creation of time.” (Pages 2–3)
“to be a judging yet desisting forbearing divine identity” (Pages xv–xvi)
Neil MacDonald’s reflection moves back, forth and sideways between critical biblical study, high-modern philosophy in the analytical tradition, and classical Christian doctrine. Most who have attempted such explorations have reported mostly blockades and traps. MacDonald discovers instead sudden opportunities of faithful insight and of—very often unexpected—theological construction. A remarkable and, I think, important book, to be read with attention.
—Robert W. Jenson, Formerly Senior Scholar for Research at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, Professor Emeritus of Religion, St. Olaf College, Minnesota
MacDonald’s is a voice crying in the wilderness. This is a brilliant effort to combine the very best in historical-critical and theological exegesis with dogmatic and philosophical reflection of a very high level. The writing style is lucid and at times almost poetic, which a theme as exalted as God’s work in time requires. Sophisticated and full of insight. May his tribe increase.
—Christopher R. Seitz, Professor of Old Testament and Theological Studies, University of St. Andrews
Neil MacDonald’s latest book is the first major effort in many decades to attempt to reintegrate systematic theology with biblical studies. The author’s grasp of the whole spectrum of modern biblical scholarship, both in Old and New Testaments, is highly impressive. Because of his unique mastery of philosophical theory as well, he is superbly equipped for this exciting task. His book will certainly serve to open up a fresh dialogue, which is long overdue.
—Brevard S. Childs, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Yale Divinity School