How does God act in the world, and what is our response? Mark McEntire tackles these fundamental questions with perceptiveness, clarity, and thorough scholarship. Focusing on the more subtle movements of God found in the later parts of the Old Testament and the apocryphal writings of the last three centuries before Christ, McEntire paints a portrait of God that is realistic and relatable. Through this approach, the author helps readers examine the movements of God in their own lives and in the world today.
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What difference would it make for Old Testament theology if we turned our attention from the more dramatic, forceful “mighty acts of God” to the more subdued, but more realistic themes of later writings in the Hebrew Bible? The result, Mark McEntire argues, would be a more mature theology that would enable us to respond more realistically and creatively to the unprecedented challenges of the present age.
McEntire has plunged into a most intractable issue in Old Testament theology, namely, the character of God. While he fully appreciates the ‘God who acts’ who has occupied much previous interpretation, he focuses on the ‘mature’ God of the later tradition who has largely withdrawn from the arena of action. This important book will surely be a major reference point for time to come. With his close attention to the text, McEntire requires a deep rethink of the assumptions and categories of our expository work.
—Walter Brueggemann, professor of Old Testament emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
In Portraits of a Mature God, Mark McEntire traced the narrative development of the divine character in the Old Testament, placing the God portrayed at the end of that long story at the center of theological discussion. He showed that Israel’s understanding of God had developed into a complex, multipurpose being who could work within a new reality, a world that included a semiautonomous province of Yehud and a burgeoning Mesopotamian-Mediterranean world in which the Jewish people lived and moved in a growing diversity of ways.
Now, McEntire continues that story beyond the narrative end of the Hebrew Bible as Israel and Israel’s God moved into the Hellenistic world. The narrative McEntire perceives in the apocryphal literature describes a God protecting and guiding the scattered and persecuted, a God responding to suffering in revolt, and a God disclosing mysteries, yet also hidden in the symbolism of dreams and visions. In this volume, McEntire provides a coherent and compelling account of theological perspectives in the apocryphal writings and beyond.
In An Apocryphal God, Mark McEntire explores the kind of divine characterization found in the Jewish literature of the last three centuries before the Common Era. The considerable diversity of literature produced during that period, coupled with the relative obscurity of the material to the general public today, makes such a project appear daunting at best. While attentive to historical and social dimensions of the texts, McEntire hones in on the narrative contours of each text that can open up a rich theological vein from which to mine. McEntire demonstrates well his capacity for serious and critical theological reflection as he mines those veins to their fullest. For those seeking quintessential models of biblical and theological reflection, McEntire’s An Apocryphal God will not disappoint.
—W. Dennis Tucker Jr., professor of Christian Scriptures, Baylor University
Mark McEntire is the professor of biblical studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of The Old Testament Story, Struggling with God: An Introduction to the Pentateuch, Dangerous Worlds: Living and Dying in Biblical Texts and The Blood of Abel: The Violent Plot in the Hebrew Bible.