Sunday, March 30, 2008

The God of the Tanakh (Old Testament)

Not meaning to imply that the God of the Tanakh is a different God than what is found in the New Testament, but the un-Human-like nature of the Tanakh's God is sometimes missed, and as a result we tend to forget just how big and different and far-above-human-standards God is. I was struck by the way Thomas Cahill puts it in "The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels", after discussing the trauma involved in Moses' family when his son was circumcised by Moses' wife:
What a scene this must have been---little Gershom the Sojourner screaming in one corner; blood dripping from Gershom, running down Tzippora's forearms, smeared on Moshe's foreskin; Tzippora's unhinged, triumphant exclamation; the abrupt withdrawal of God's wrath. This is another story by which all, even those who had taken on the mores of alien societies, could come to understand: the covenant in blood is serious business. And in this ancient religious milieu, still harking back to old ideas of correspondence and the power of blood, to have one's foreskin washed in the blood of one's son's foreskin was to have been circumcised.

This God is obviously not a member of any known "twelve-step program." He is far from "supportive" and "inclusive", to use the jargon of our day---and he is certainly not cuddly. Perhaps he is not a God for an age such as ours but for a more vigorous one, such as the Jacobean, that did not blanch so easily.
(pg. 112, emphasis added)

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