Gerhard Von Rad: God at Work in Israel

Gerhard Von Rad: God at Work in Israel

This is an extract from Gerhard Von Rad’s God at Word in Israel.

The various documents from which the Pentateuch are put together and the whole story of David’s accession to the throne as well as the deuteronomistic and finally the late historical work of the Chronicler, demonstrate how Israel from time to time went back afresh to write her history.

These great literary works often took a century to mature to their final form or to be framed ingeniously with others by editors, so that in the end they become mighty, misshapen collections that were scarcely still considered literature for reading.

The Old Testament unfolds a panorama of history with such detailed description that a reader educated in the western world feels at first engaged.

Modern interest in history is completely different from that which bound Israel to her history. For Israel that interest was not a thirst for knowledge that happened to concentrated on history; for in history, as nearly every page of the Old Testament affirms, Israel encountered her God. Let it be understood: this encounter was not accessible to Israel in a one-time historical document as though chiseled in stone, but rather in the leadings, callings, promises, and judgments that each generation had to ponder afresh…. The Old Testament is a to a great extent nothing but the literary record of a people’s passionate millennium-long conversation about the meaning of its history.

Source: Von Rad, Gerhard. God at Work in Israel. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1974, pp. 12-13