Eric Seibert, Disturbing Divine Behavior, Fortress Press 2009.
Is God really in the business of summarily executing those who are “wicked” and “displeasing” in God’s sight? If so, how does this fit with the ugly realities of the modern world? If God instantly executed individuals like these, then why were people like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Slobodan Milosevic allowed to live so long and do so much evil?
– p. 19
Regardless of how one tries to resolve the tension, it is hard to deny that the Old Testament presents God in ways that appear ethically questionable, if not downright immoral. God is portrayed as one who sanctions violence, particpates in war, executes individuals for seemingly minor offences, and annihilates large groups of people in dramatic acts of divine destruction. If we are honest, many of us will admit that these images of God do not match up very well with some of our beliefs about God. Understandably, this creates a dilemma for those of us who affirm Scripture’s authority yet remain at a loss for what to do with these problematic portrayals.
– p. 34
“If reading the Bible does not raise profound problems for you as a modern reader, then check with your doctor and enquire about the symptoms of brain-death.”
Others do not find these passages problematic because of their comfortable familiarity with them. The familiarity effectively anesthetizes some readers of the Bible, preventing them from experiencing any significant discomfort with the unsettling images of God these stories contain. In short, they have grown so accustomed to these narratives that they are no longer troubled by them.
– p. 51
As Noll puts it, “The storyteller requires a capricious deity to make the plot work… The error we moderns often make is to assume that the characterization of Yahweh “mattered” to the ancient author and the original audience – it almost certainly did not. That is to say, this tale was not designed to teach some religious truth about a god called Yahweh.”
– p. 147