cover image Flood and Fury: Old Testament Violence and the Shalom of God

Flood and Fury: Old Testament Violence and the Shalom of God

Matthew J. Lynch. IVP, $24 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-514-00429-6

This ambitious offering from Regent College Old Testament professor Lynch (Monotheism and Institutions in the Book of Chronicles) explores what Old Testament violence reveals about God. Surveying a broad array of Old Testament narratives, Lynch posits that while modern Christians might find the violence depicted shocking, there’s a deeper story at the root of these texts: “the arc of all Scripture bends toward peace.... The beginning and end of the biblical story is shalom,” here defined as “right-relating wholeness.” In providing scriptural context to illustrate how God’s mercy wins out despite often unsavory processes, the author looks to, among other passages, Genesis, when the Israelites must contest dreaded “giants” known as the Nephilim, and the battle is less about gratuitous bloodthirst than God summoning courage from his people and demonstrating his “faithfulness in helping Israel overcome a vastly superior enemy.” Whether the meticulous detail of these violent episodes, couched in the larger arc of biblical salvation history, will appeal to casual Christian cynics is uncertain, but for the earnest believer eager to navigate a thorny biblical issue, Lynch’s case lands as a confident consideration that mixes rigorous textual analysis with a bold argument—and is propulsive reading, to boot. This may polarize some students of the Old Testament, but it fascinates nonetheless. (Feb.)