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Grateful for Goldingay

John Goldingay is one of my absolute favorite biblical theologians. He is the David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament at Fuller, and I was lucky enough to take several courses from him during my time there as a student. He’s a provocative reader of the Scriptures, passionate about the Hebrew Bible, and wears phenomenal t-shirts.

He’s also completing the Old Testament for Everyone commentary set (a significantly challenging task, given the length and breadth of the OT when compared to the NT, which would be challenging enough). These are great “go-to” commentaries that are extremely accessible which remaining both enlightening and challenging. If you’re looking for more depth, his three-volume Old Testament Theology is massive (yet highly readable) and, at risk of unmasking my inner-nerd, really entertaining and enjoyable to read (I haven’t made it all the way through yet, but what I have read is well-worn and well-marked).

In prepping for an upcoming sermon, I was perusing some of the writings on his website (he is a prolific author and has many papers, presentations, lectures, articles, and complete books and commentaries available for download on his website – more than you could read in weeks!).

Here’s a piece of his on Jeremiah that I was thankful to come across (emphasis mine):

The Abrahamic covenant was based on a promise, which is something.  The Mosaic covenant was based on an act of deliverance, which is more.  The new covenant will be based on an extraordinary act of forgiveness.  That is the most powerful, healing, and winsome act that any person can ever do for another… The act of forgiveness that Yahweh will now undertake in restoring the people after the collapse of the covenant will break into their spirits in a wholly new way.  They will know themselves as an extraordinarily loved and forgiven people.  That will change them inside and make them respond to Yahweh in a way they never have before.

The idea of a new covenant was then one of many Old Testament ideas that Jesus and the New Testament writers used to illumine what Jesus did.  It is for this reason that it appears in the lectionary for Lent 5.  We do not have to claim that this is the first or only fulfillment of this promise of God’s, and thereby downplay the significance of God’s work in the Jewish people.  Indeed, it is characteristic of New Testament use of such prophecies that they are re-applications of the Old Testament words, and this is another example.  The death of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit set relationships with God on a new basis.  It was a new covenant.

And, on a more humorous leve, here’s a bit from his biographical piece called Life as a Haircut:

When I was 35 I cut it myself, like Keith Richards. (He is a Rolling Stone.)
A barber had nicked my shirt. I resolved to avoid barbers.
Ann cut it while she could, and after that I did it.
My rector once said he had never seen anything that looked less like an Episcopal clergyman.

When I was 45 I had it cut like Paul Simon.
We were watching the reunion concert in Central Park on TV one Sunday evening.
I turned to Ann and said, “Paul Simon has had his hair cut – the sixties must be over.”
After all those years of cutting it myself, the barber said it was quite a mess.

When I was 55 I had it cut like Steve McQueen.
It had gone white and it looked cool the way he had it.
Do you remember him jumping the prisoner-of-war camp fence?
“Like Steve McQueen, all we need is a fast machine” (Sheryl Crow).

When I am 65, I may have it shaved like a rapper.
It’s a shame I never got round to an Afro, like Jimi Hendrix, and Tim Buckley.
(He was Jeff Buckley’s dad. How amazing that he came from Orange County.)
Or maybe I’ll get a wig. It’s not over till it’s over.


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