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Metaphysics and the God of Israel: Systematic Theology of the Old and New Testaments [Paperback]

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Item Number 50948  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   248
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801032431  
EAN  9780801032431  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book seeks to put back on the theological agenda not merely a biblical theology but a systematic theology-of the Old and New Testaments.

Publishers Description
"Metaphysics and the God of Israel "seeks to put back on the theological agenda not merely a biblical theology but a systematic theology of the Old and New Testaments. Author Neil B. MacDonald argues against current trends in the academy that question a unified biblical theology of the entire Bible. In doing so he covers the theological and philosophical gamut, from Aristotle, Anselm, and Augustine to Nicholas Wolterstoff, N. T. Wright, and Christopher Seitz.
Students and scholars of biblical, theological, and philosophy studies will appreciate this contribution to biblical theology.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
MacDonald makes me want to Barth  Oct 2, 2008
MacDonald must be commended for his effort to combine the insights of contemporary analytic philosophy of religion with higher biblical criticism. It is hard to find a theologian who happily takes the fruit from such diverse trees as von Rad and Wolterstorff. His discussions on God's relation to time and the biblical doctrine of creation are wonderful. This alone makes the book worth reading in my opinion. There are many other great moments in this work, but I wish to mention a few points of contention that I had with MacDonald.

1) MacDonald is a Barth scholar (I have no problem with this). This is quite evident in his theological explanations on various topics. In particular, MacDonald employs Barth's concept of God's self-determination. I found this to be rather fruitless. MacDonald often makes the claim "God determines himself to be x, therefore God is x." For instance, "God declares himself to be the creator of the world, therefore he is the creator of the world." The way MacDonald uses this type of rhetoric leaves one asking whether or not God actually created the world. Personally, as an analytic philosopher of religion, I found such talk to be very unhelpful, especially when it came to discussing how God acts in the world.

2) MacDonald cuts himself off from natural theology. If you are a Barthian this will not bother you. For me, it was disappointing.

3) He makes the claim that God enters into time in order to interact with his creation. This is one of the points where he borrows from the debates within contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. I think this is a good move. Yet, MacDonald seems to take this concept too far when he claims that God also enters into space in order to interact with his creation. I have no idea what that could possibly mean. I am not sure if this move is necessary in order to claim that God interacts with the world.

However, in spite of these issues I hope that MacDonald continues to bring together the streams of analytic philosophical theology and biblical criticism in future works. More people need to do work like this. These various disciplines must be brought together, and we should be thankful that MacDonald has made an effort to do so.

Important Book for Christians  Jan 2, 2008
This book has a lot going on within its pages. MacDonald writes with a remarkable economy of words, which keeps the book brief and requires the re-reading of many portions. I had high hopes for the book and was not disappointed. He effectively draws from philosophy, biblical studies, and theology, calling Christians to take seriously the Old Testament for theological construction and demostrating how this sheds new light on the reading of the New. His discussions of biblical passages distills much wisdom and yields remarkable, sometimes astonishing results. Anyone who wonders how theological fidelity to the Christian tradition can combine with appreciation for historical-critical biblical scholarship will be grateful for this book.

There was recently a substantial discussion of this book on the theology blog Faith and Theology, including a reply from MacDonald himself[....]. One of the main criticisms discussed there is shared here by Ryan Mullins, namely that MacDonald's theory of divine self-determination doesn't really mean anything. I encourage you to read MacDonald's explanation for yourself. I only want to add that MacDonald's formula "God determined himself to be X (creator, incarnate, in time, etc.); therefore God is X" makes sense if we understand the formula not to be addressing "if" but "how." For MacDonald, the question is not if God is creator the world, for MacDonald surely believes this to be the case. The question is how did God come to be creator. While it is common to speak about creation "overflowing" out from God's own life of love, it is not common to speak of how this takes place. MacDonald risks an answer, one that maintains that God is sufficient in himself. In order to create, God did not manipulate anything outside of God; God did something to himself. This is not meaningless or tautologous, but consistent with the Christian tradition of creatio ex nihilo.


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