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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation
Lohr, Joel N.

Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2009 pp. xviii + 254. $39.50

Series Information
Siphrut: Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures, 27

Description: The God of the Bible favors a national people, Israel, and this is at the cost of the other nations. In fact, not being Israel usually means humiliation or destruction or simply being ignored by God. Reading the text "with the grain" or placing oneself within the chosens perspective may seem very well until one considers the unchosen. There is much regarding the unchosen that has not been explored in scholarly research, but in this important work, Lohr attempts to make sense of the question of election and nonelection in the OT as a Christian interpreter and with a concern for the history of interpretation and Jewish-Christian dialogue. He also corrects a Christian tendency to read election and nonelection as love and damnation, respectively, a perception that is altogether foreign to the OT itself. The unchosen are important to the overall world view of Scripture and, although election entails exclusion, and Gods love for the one people Israel is a love in contrast to others, it does not follow that the unchosen fall outside of the economy of Gods purposes, his workings, or his ways. The unchosen often face important tests of their own and have a responsibility to God and the chosen, however much this idea defies modern-day notions of fairness. It is a central idea of Scripture that already appears in the original call of and promises made to Abram and something that, if ignored, places our larger understanding of God at risk. Equally important, if contemporary faith communities (both Jewish and Christian) form their understanding of "the other" on a faulty reading of Scripture regarding the unchosen, chaos and hatred can ensue. The political and religious climate of our contemporary world has never presented a more important time to get this matter right. Scholars and students alike are finding Chosen and Unchosen to be an indispensable resource as they mull over these difficult questions.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Interpretation

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Review by Dale Patrick
Published 9/8/2010
Citation: Dale Patrick, review of Joel N. Lohr, Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2010).

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