Understanding Violence in the Old Testament (and New Testament)—Matt Lynch

Many readers of Scripture are jarred when God and Israel commit violence in the Old Testament. From the conquest of Canaan, to the lives of the biblical patriarchs, to the great flood in Genesis, we cannot avoid the fact that God and His people fight and kill. This can lead to a crisis of faith—how can God be good if He is violent?

Dr. Matt Lynch, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Regent College, wants to reframe our questions; rather than merely worrying about God’s use of violence, we could instead ask how the biblical authors are critiquing our use of violence. In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson interviews Dr. Lynch about how the Bible portrays violence. They discuss Scripture’s persistent connection between violence and tumult, and the difference between justified forceful harm and unjust violence. They also address the ethical connection between human beings and the rest of creation, and how violence in the Old Testament and New Testament separates humanity from God and the earth.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 The problem of violence in the Old Testament and New Testament
  • 2:25 Introducing Dr. Matthew Lynch and his work
  • 7:12 Violence in Scripture versus violence in the modern world
  • 11:50 War with the Canaanites in the book of Joshua
  • 14:28 Ethics, ecology, and the environment
  • 22:47 The New Covenant and our relationship to creation
  • 24:24 The overarching perspective on violence in Scripture
  • 29:15 Listening to the biblical texts for their questions

Dr. Lynch’s new book: Portraying Violence in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary and Cultural Study

Show notes by Micah Long.

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