Merrill Everlasting Dominion Readings (1-33, 165-97, 199-226)

[Comments on readings in Merrill’s Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament] I found it interesting that in the introduction Merrill says that a correct, or proper biblical theological method is “one that has no preconceived ideas about biblical truth” (p. 2).  And yet, I would argue, that he has preconceived ideas in his “Presuppositions” (p. 22).  I do not have a problem with them, in that I believe one must come to the text believing that it is God’s Word, but it seems he is being a little inconsistent.  I also agree, and it really does sadden me, that the documentary hypothesis (p. 7) has really influenced Old Testament scholarship.  I was just preparing for a sermon in Numbers and was hard-pressed to find any commentary that did not believe in multiple authors and editors.  Also to note how Evolution has influenced Biblical theology, mentioned briefly on page 11 – just showing how, as Christians, we tend to feel a great need to be accepted by those around us, and jump on the bandwagon without really thinking things through.  I also agree with O. J. Baab in his view that “Old Testament theology can be done properly only by a Christian” (p. 15).  I see this even more in the field of Apologetics, as people try to reason with those who are unreasonable, being that they deny the reality of God (it is God’s world).

Merrill seems to agree with himself, in that his “center” is still Genesis 1:26-28 (p. 27 and p. 18 in BTOT).  In looking at the purpose of Genesis, it is still hard for me to delineate from the “whole world” perspective and the perspective that Genesis was written so that the Jews could understand themselves as Merrill points out (p. 167).  I assume the two ideas are not exclusive of each other, but it is still hard to wrap my mind around it.  I guess in some ways it is the same as when one preaches any passage – though it was written to a certain audience, it was written for us.

When Merrill discusses the translation of the Hebrew particle בְּ (p. 170), it definitely seems to be a very hard decision, being that the particle is normally translated in the locative nuance, the context still must bear it out.  It is always hard for me to accept external evidence, because it seems like there can be some fallacy in that, for cultures do differ and ideas do not exactly transfer fully across cultural lines.  But in reading, it does seem like there is some internal evidence that points to the fact that the “image” is not so much that Adam looks like God or has his emotions, but that he really is God’s representative on earth, in that God commissions him to rule over the earth.  I am not totally decided, but it brings some good arguments to the table.  When Merrill brings up the fact that before the fall Adam ruled over the animal kingdom without effort, using the “docility” (p. 171) of the animals as proof, my mind instantly questioned this reasoning – for were not the animals “docile” for Noah as well?  I mean, they came to him two by two!  This might have just been an act of God, and not normal.  But I do see the proof of Isaiah’s information about the Millennium and Christ on the donkey (p. 173) as better evidence of this fact.  In line with the fall, it was very interesting to read Merrill’s idea that the reason sin was possible was because of the very fact that Adam and Eve were created as God’s images.  I never had really thought of using the “image” fact in this argument.  But whether one takes the “in” or “as” position, this argument is not really affected because both bear likeness to God (emotions, volition etc).

In his discussion about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (p. 202), I felt like it lacked substance.  I wanted more explanation into what it really means when God says, “He has become like us.”  That is a hard question, and I though Merrill would go into more detail.  God cannot, experience sin like us, because we have sinned, and God has never sinned.  This is a very deep issue, possibly it cannot be totally understood, hence Merrill gets out of it before he gets too deep.


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