Merrill Everlasting Dominion Readings (75-126, 413-26)


[Comments on readings in Merrill’s Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament] One topic that I have yet to really study is that of Old Testament means of revelation from God (p. 76).  Merrill has great summaries on each mode of revelation in the Old Testament, but it leaves me still wondering.  As Christian conservatives we believe the Bible is the only revelation of God that can be truly infallible and inerrant, but how does that concept pan out in an Old Testament world?  They had dreams and visions, and yet they were for sure from God.  Why is it that we put the written word on a pedestal, and dismiss other means of past revelation as unreliable?  It seems like a hole in the system.  If revelation in dreams was once a valid way for God to communicate, why do we demean that mode of communication?  Could those revelations not be proven?  Were they just the “voice” in someone’s head?  We know them not to be, for Scripture tells us it was God Himself, but how did they know it was God?
On Merrill’s discussion about Isaiah 7:3-17 (p. 97), I found it difficult, if there were two fulfillments, to believe that there were two virgins.  Is it a virgin or is it not?  Obviously the New Testament tells us Mary was a virgin, but did Isaiah?  Because if the prophecy was fulfilled once with a non-virgin (meaning through relations with a man), how could the word that Isaiah used actually mean “virgin”?  Because the prophecy would be false – at least in the first fulfillment.
When Merrill states that Genesis 2 contains “highly figurative language” (p. 105), I am not sure if I agree.  What in the passage demands that it be figurative?  Merrill believes God did not actually “form, breathe, plant, and place” anything, but that these things rather happened as a direct result of God’s spoken word.  But what is preventing God from in some way, doing these things personally?  All Genesis 1 says is that God created man – it doesn’t say how (if He spoke or “formed” him).  Also, the planting of God refers directly to the Garden of Eden, which seems to be a special place, whereas there were other plants that were spoken into being, God could have taken special care of Eden.  Why does Merrill feel chapter 2 must be figurative?  I am not convinced.
The relationship Canaan had with Noah was quite interesting (p. 113).  I had never heard that or saw it in my reading of Scripture.  Very interesting!  This puts Merrill a step above Thomas Constable in my thoughts, especially because Merrill later has a whole section on “Holy War” (p. 415).  But I still found it interesting that neither of them made the connection to God being ready to give mercy to any Cannanite who wanted to repent, as shown through Rahab.  Merrill even mentions Rahab (p. 417), but does not draw any conclusion to her being saved (it sure sticks out like a sore thumb to me!).

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