cover image Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament

Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament

Melissa Florer-Bixler. Herald, $16.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-5138-0418-7

In her fantastic debut, Mennonite pastor Florer-Bixler guides readers through a slow, participatory reading of the Old Testament that leads to thoughtful musings on issues including white supremacy, immigration, and the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities. Insisting that the God of the Old and New Testaments is one God, and refusing to interpret Old Testament stories solely through a Christian framework, Florer-Bixler invites readers “to witness the lives of people in Scripture who struggled with God’s presence and God’s absence.” She engages texts that present complicated depictions of God and God’s relation to humanity—such as Leviticus’s Holiness Code, Genesis’s tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, or Job’s suffering—and ponders the discomfort, frustration, wonder, and awe these stories evoke. Weaving in rabbinical teaching, reflections from her Mennonite tradition, and stories from her ministry, Florer-Bixler unearths forgotten contexts, such as the constant threats of violence Israelites faced, and consistent themes, like God’s unrelenting compassion for the poor and oppressed. In discerning how these ancient tales spoke to their original audience, Florer-Bixler proves herself a challenging teacher and inspiring preacher. Her impressive exploration of Old Testament themes will be a blessing for Christians seeking intellectually grounded spiritual guidance. (Apr.)