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God Who Makes Himself Known, The (NSBT) (New Studies in Biblical Theology) [Paperback]

Dr W Ross Blackburn

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18 May 2012 New Studies in Biblical Theology

The Lord's commitment to make himself known throughout the nations is the missionary theme that spans the Bible, and is the central theological concern of the book of Exodus.

Countering scholarly tendencies to fragment the text due to theological problems, Ross Blackburn contends that Exodus can be read as a unified whole, and that an appreciation of this missionary theme in its canonical context is of great help in dealing with difficult issues that the book poses. For example, how is Exodus 6:3 best understood? Is there a tension between law and gospel, or mercy and judgment? How should we understand the painstaking detail of the tabernacle chapters?


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About the Author

W. Ross Blackburn (PhD, University of St. Andrews) serves as the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, North Carolina, and teaches Biblical Studies at Appalachian State University.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to the series and any library 3 July 2012
By Jacob Sweeney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most missiological studies focus primarily upon the New Testament. Some may venture into Old Testament books like Jonah, but that's about as far as they go. Scholars like Christopher Wright and Walt Kaiser have argued for an emphasis on "mission" present within the Old Testament. Few have argued for entire biblical books which present such an idea. W. Ross Blackburn contends that Exodus, specifically, exposes us to the missionary heart of God. He argues that the purpose of the book of Exodus is to reveal himself - both to Israel and Gentiles - as God, or Yahweh. He follows a canonical method of interpretation that values the received form of a text and it's placement within the canon. However, since the focus of the study is on Exodus, he limits the canonical study, though it is clearly influencing his reading.

Blackburn divides his study into six sections: Exodus, Wilderness, Law, Tabernacle instructions, Golden Calf, Tabernacle constructions. Each of these represents a critical scene (or series of scenes) in the book and expose the missionary heart of God.

This is a wonderful addition to the NSBT series. I like to see the addition of monographs on individual books - one on Jonah was recently published and another on Jeremiah will be released soon. It represents a shift towards a biblical theology as opposed to a more systematic. Blackburn's contribution provides an excellent overview of the book of Exodus which highlights the main themes and important details. While he believes that the emphasis on Exodus could be shown to extend beyond the book itself, he does a good job of focusing this study on the book at hand. This would make an excellent addition to any Old Testament Survey or Pentateuch course. It is readable, well-organized and well-argued.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best commentary on the book of Exodus 27 Mar 2013
By GreatBooksforyou - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The God who makes himself known: The missionary heart of the book of Exodus

W. Ross Blackburn, Intervarsity Press, 238 pages, $24.00

I enjoyed reading this book which I am calling a layman's commentary on the book of Exodus. Blackburn structures the book as follows: The name of the redeemer (Exod. 1:1 - 15:21), Training in the wilderness (Exod. 15:22 - 18:27), The law and the mission of God (Exod. 19 - 24), The tabernacle instructions (Exod. 25 - 31), The golden calf (Exod. 32 - 34), The tabernacle construction (Exod. 35 - 40).

In this book, Blackburn argues that the Lord's missionary commitment to make himself known to the nations is the central theological concern of Exodus (p.15). The concept of God `making himself known' relates to God's name.

But part of Exodus is often confusing to many readers. Exodus 6:3 states, `By my name the Lord I did not make myself known to [the patriarchs],' a statement that appears to contradict the frequent use of the name in Genesis (i.e. Gen 15:2, 7). Obviously it cannot be true that God was not known to Abraham by the name Yahweh [Exod. 6:3] and that He was known to him by that name [Gen. 15:2, 7] (p.26).

Blackburn notes, however, that the contrast implied in Exodus 6:3 had not to do with when the name was revealed, but rather what the name revealed. It was not the name per se that was new, but that a new and more complete understanding of the name was being revealed (p. 27).

Blackburn argues that the fulfilment of the patriarchal promises, while important, is not what ultimately distinguishes the significance of the name Yahweh from Genesis to Exodus, but rather that, in the light of the narrative context of 1:1 - 15:21, what is new in 6:3 is the revelation of the Lord as Redeemer, the God who, being supreme over all creation, is willing and able to deliver his people( p.28).

Also related to the meaning of God's name, Brueggemann (1997: 124) has gone so far as to suggest that `it is plausible that the entire Exodus narrative is an exposition of the name of Exod 3:14 (p.34).

God's intention of making his name known among the nation runs into opposition with the Pharaoh. God had promised to Abraham nationhood, and that worldwide blessing would come from that nation, and that all of this depended on Abraham's fruitfulness: `I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you' (Gen. 17:6; cf. 26:2-5, 24; 28:14). However, it is precisely Israel's multiplication that Pharaoh sought to restrain (p.30). Therefore, Pharaoh's opposition threatened God's purposes to be known throughout the world. So the battle between God and Pharaoh resulting in numerous miracles was all part of the process of God making his name known to the nations.

Pharoah's stubbornness actually helped the surrounding nations to understand God's name. For example, Pharaoh asks a question to which the rest of 5 - 15 will be the answer: `Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go' (Exod. 5:2). Unlike Moses' question of 3:13, however, Pharaoh's question is not one of enquiry, but of defiance (p.39). The resulting plague accounts are designed to reveal the Lord as supreme not only over Pharaoh but over all creation.

After the golden calf incident (Exod 32:8), Moses petitions God four times (Ex 32:11-13, Ex 32:31b-32, Ex 33:12-18, Ex 34:9). Moses was successful in moving the Lord from his stated intention of destroying Israel to forgiving Israel and reinstating his covenant. Blackburn notes that Moses was successful due to the manner in which he grounded his petitions in the Lord's own purpose to be known as God among the nations (p.179).

The average layperson will appreciate this book because it was not overly academic or technical. Although Blackburn states clearly that he writes from an evangelical perspective (p.20), he also comments on the liberal scholars who attack the veracity of the book of Exodus. I recommend this book to anyone with a desire to better understand the book of Exodus and especially the missionary theme of Exodus.

References
Bruggemann, W. 1997. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, dispute, advocacy, Minneapolis: Fortress.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A commentary like no other 27 Sep 2013
By Caleb Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I used this outline as I was teaching a Bible study to give my college sophomores the idea of God not just being missional when Jesus arrived on the scene, but since the beginning. Through this it points back to Abraham and God's intent to reach all nations through him and describes how the events of Exodus continue to show that the intent and heart of God never changed through time, we just tend to miss God's goal by focussing on His means. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I believe that anyone that is looking for God's heart for the world, looking to expand the eyes of their constituents scope, or looking to build upon a foundation of God's mission needs this in their library.
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