God and the Origin of Evil: A Contextual Analysis of Alleged Monistic Evidence in the Old Testament

University dissertation from CWK Gleerup

Abstract: This book is dedicated to the study of a problem which Biblical research has regarded a a central aspect of the OT understanding of God, namely, the thesis that the Deity was held to be the immediate author of all evils affecting both the individual and the nation of Israel a a whole. Examination of the exegetical literature dealing with this problem reveals that scholars have thought to find support for this view in passages of two types, in part in texts which explicitly place responsibility for evil with God, and in part in texts which seem to indicate that a demonic element was incorporated into the Deity via a process of identification. In the first part of Lindström’s study the latter supposition is examined by means of a critical review of those passages which are usually held to support the “demon” thesis. The author concludes that none of the texts in question provides valid grounds for the notion that YHWH became identified with a demonic being, or that he took such a being into his service, thus becoming secondarily or indirectly indicted for capricious activity. Consequently, against the usual view it is maintained that none of these passages implicitly expresses the concept of universal divine responsibility in the Old Testament. The second part of Lindström’s study investigates the classical passages generally held to support the thesis of divine responsibility. The writer examines these passages with a view to determining whether they do in fact intend to assign responsibility for all the misfortunes of life to God. Contextual analysis leads to a negative answer of this question. In conclusion the writer emphasizes that this well-known axiom of the exegetical study of the problem of God and the origin of evil is untenable and is to be abandoned.

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