Monday, April 09, 2007

The Cruciform God: Chapter One (Part 1)

Gorman starts chapter one with a minor but very important point concerning the ‘new perspective’. He states that, ‘Knowing God – having an appropriately awe -filled yet intimate relationship, or partnership, with the creator, redeemer of Israel, and sovereign of the universe – is and was the life goal of faithful Jews.’

This is an important caveat in discussing Paul’s view of God, because often in such discussions where talk of Jesus and God take place it is the Jewish people and the Jewish God who are made into caricatures so as to show the greatness of the Christian god. Gorman takes pains to show what most biblical scholars concede, namely that Paul’s talk of God is within the scope of Judaism(s).

That caveat being made the purpose of this chapter is to show that for Paul, God and the cross were inextricably interrelated. It is not just Jesus who is defined by the cross, but also that God himself is defined by the cross.

Gorman argues this in a rather logical way (or perhaps linear is the better word here). Gorman sets up the reader with the understanding that Paul’s knowledge of God is shaped from beginning to end by Jewish categories. He does this by emphasizing the role of (a) the Shema (Deut 6.4) in Paul’s talk of God. (The Shema obviously focuses on the oneness of God) (b) the faithfulness of God to his promises (Rom 3.3-4), and (c) God as a relational God (Rom 1.8). Gorman offers plenty of proof from the Hebrew Scriptures to substantiate these claims about God, and elucidates the reader of how Paul used these same categories. Gorman then expands on point 1.c (God is relational) by focusing on Paul’s view of God as father, although there are places in the Hebrew Scriptures where God is seen as a father, Gorman makes the case that Paul is following Jesus’ own example here. Gorman expands this relational aspect by tying in the ‘Son of God’ tropes with Jesus’ own ‘Abba’ traditions, tying this in to the peculiar way in which Paul sees the followers of Jesus as children of God (obviously the rub here would be the fact that Paul included the Gentiles). Paul uses adoption language here to make his argument. This moves Gorman to his next position, namely that, God the father is for humanity.

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