Merrill Everlasting Dominion Readings (227-49, 251-73)


[Comments on readings in Merrill’s Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament] Merrill seems to believe that “One must be careful not to infer too much of the notion of substitutionary atonement from this [God clothing Adam and Eve] rather cryptic account” (p. 228), and yet he goes on to read quite a bit into that account.  Why should we read so much into the text when the Bible NEVER reads into it?  I am not aware of ANY Scripture that refers to God’s clothing of Adam and Eve (and the assumed animal killing) as a precursor to God’s provision of salvation in Jesus.  So why should infer it as Merrill seems to do?  It really does not seem like he takes his own advice, saying “Unless the Lord provided the covering, they would forever remain in their spiritual nakedness before him…This obviously presupposes the slaughter of an animal…” (p. 228)  And also, “not only did animal slaughter become understood as a religious obligation by the second generation, but with it had emerged at least a primitive cultus” (p. 229).  But it actually did not make animal slaughter an understood obligation, because Cain brought vegetables!  And Merrill even confirms the fact that it is unlikely that God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice because it was bloodless, but rather because Cain lacked faith (p. 230).  So why does Merrill feel the need to read so much into God’s covering of Adam and Eve?  Maybe because it seems plausible to him, but I really hesitate to read that much into it, especially because the Bible never refers to it (besides, “inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.” [2 Cor. 5:3]).  It feels uncomfortable to me. NOTE: it is important to remember Genesis is written to Israel, who understood sacrifice.  God didn’t use fig leaves – or something else, he used skin…
I thought Merrill’s discussion on Cain and Abel’s sacrifice was very insightful, and helpful in deciding whether or not it was the nature of the sacrifice or the nature of the worshipper that caused God to show favor or not (p. 230).  He does some very good exegesis, something that has not been fully shown in the book so far – at least not in this much detail.
It is also sad to note, as it is most of the time with “scholars” of the Old Testament, that many scholars argue that the account of Noah had to be “re-written” after Moses being that there is a reference to clean and unclean animals (p. 233).  But what Merrill failed to point out was that in the story itself God told Noah that he should take seven pairs of the clean animals, and it is clear that Noah did not just go get the animals, but that God made them come to him, so it would be apparent which animals were clean and were not by observation, even if God did not give Noah more information than is given in the text.  Sometimes scholarship, especially in the Old Testament just makes me sad because of how liberal they are – they do not even believe the Word they are studying.
The pointing out of Isaac’s question, “Where is the lamb?” (p. 235), was very interesting, and insightful.  I had never really thought about the fact that it showed that Isaac thought there should be a lamb, even though the law had not yet been given.  How should this influence the interpretation of other passages in Genesis, I do not know, but it is very interesting.  But even at this point, Merrill even states that he is “At the risk of reading later Old Testament revelation into the passage…” (p. 235).  What is the balance?

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