John Anderson and I are reading the same trilogy: John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology. In this post, I take preliminary stock of all three volumes.
IVP Academic is to be thanked for bringing such a massive opus to print in sturdy hardbound volumes. The font size and paper color are easy on the eyes. Besides the 883 + 834 + 839 pages of text with user-friendly footnotes, there are extensive bibliographies, and subject, author, and scripture indices. The contrast with the editorial choices made by Westminster John Knox Press, for example, in the case of a comparable volume, Leo Purdue’s Wisdom Literature: A Theological History (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), could not be sharper. Purdue’s excellent volume is a paperback printed on inferior paper. The font size used is smaller; endnotes rather than footnotes are provided, a great inconvenience; and there are no indices of any kind. None. There ought to be a law.
When reading a work of scholarship, I like to begin with footnotes and indices. Who is the author interacting with, and at what level of detail? Goldingay's trilogy is a work of Old Testament Theology. Let me make a brief confession. I am convinced that important advances in Christian theology will take place when the New Testament and Christian theology are rethought in Old Testament terms. Better still, in Jewish terms. Until Christian scholars of both the Old and New Testaments learn to fully engage with the Jewish tradition, I’m not convinced much good will come from rehashing old questions in blissful disregard of that tradition of interpretation.
Therefore I am happy to see how much attention Goldingay gives to interacting with the work of Jewish theologians such as Abraham Heschel, Jon Levenson, Judith Plaskow, and Michael Wyschogrod, plus exegetes like Jacob Milgrom, Baruch Levine, and Sara Japhet. This is a huge step forward. By no means enough in my view, but better than any competitor I can think of, except perhaps for Paul van Buren in the realm of systematic theology, an author Goldingay also, and gratefully, takes very seriously. Another massive step in the right direction.
UPDATE: Duane Smith is more forthright than I am about the evils of endnotes. He is spot on. Go here.
John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology. Volume One: Israel’s Gospel (Downers Grove: IVP Academic; London: Paternoster, 2003); idem, Old Testament Theology. Volume Two: Israel’s Faith (Downers Grove: IVP Academic; London: Paternoster, 2006); idem, Old Testament Theology. Volume Three: Israel’s Life (Downers Grove: IVP Academic; London: Paternoster, 2009)