Luther and Calvin on Old Testament Narratives: Reformation Thought and Narrative Text

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“This volume offers a fresh study of reformation exegesis with special attention to the pastoral concerns and narrative structure of the reformers’ distinctive approach to Scripture. Through his careful analysis of how selected Old Testament stories were interpreted in the sixteenth century, Michael Parsons sheds new light on the great themes of reformation theology including God’s self-disclosure in covenantal history and the redeeming work of Christ amidst human brokenness and sin. In this way, the reformers emerge as invaluable discussion partners for biblical theologians today. Well researched and well written, this is an important study that deserves to be widely known.” – Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samfod University and Executive Editor, Christianity Today

“This masterful work provides a fresh look at Calvin and Luther, inviting us to discover the fullness and power of their experience with Holy Scripture. Parsons boldly pushed beyond past debates on formulaic ways of expressing Scripture’s “authority” by focusing on the “master narrative” of Scripture and ways the Reformers entered into the Bible’s story in dynamic and transformative ways. Their participatory, pastoral perspective is presented on their own terms. This work invites us to honor Calvin and Luther’s exegetical and theological insights while also experiencing today the God revealed in Scripture – a goal of both Reformers. All future studies will necessarily need to interact with Parson’s splendidly persuasive account!” – Donald K. McKim, Editor, Readings in Calvin’s Theology; Calvin’s Institutes: Abridged Edition

“We are indebted to Mike Parsons for his abilities, both in the hard grind of tracking down, reading, understanding and integrating both primary and secondary sources, and in writing that presents the gems in an attractive and lucid manner for various readers. This is a book that has much to offer, whether one’s interest is to gain fresh understanding of the Reformers or whether one, like the Reformers, is seeking to hear the word of God today through the narratives.” – John Olley, Principal and Head of Old Testament Department, Baptist Theological College of Western Australia

“Michael Parsons offers here a series of essays, each of which represents an argument for why we should read the writings of Luther and Calvin if we truly care about how the Bible has continued to shape culture and church, including not only Christian piety and doctrine, but also ethics and identity…..” – John L. Thompson, Professor of Historical Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This book makes a good contribution to our understanding of the Reformers and their handling of biblical texts. It sets out to draw comparisons between today's 'narrative' approaches while conceding that, properly speaking the Reformers were not 'narrative theologians.' ... this work gives us a valuable reminder of the essentially pastoral orientation of these Reformers and their concern to help the believer make sense of life under the gracious rule of a covenant God" - Aldersgate Papers, Theological Journal of The Wesleyan Theological Consortium

“In spite of the tremendous attention rightfully paid by Reformation historians to the monumental contributions of Luther and Calvin to Christian theology, the hemeneutical circle between these magisterial reformers’ doctrine and their exegesis of key Hebrew Bible narratives remains vastly underexplored. It is precisely this dilemma that Dr. Michael Parsons . . . seeks to remedy in this clearly written and ably argued book . . . Dr. Parsons, in this fine book, performs a tremendous service to the Reformation historical academy by assessing Luther and Calvin first and foremost through a pastoral lens, as they undoubtedly believed their sociopolitical ventures would be judged in terms of their benefits to the church, both divine head and human members. For those with the eyes to see the theological motives underlying exegetical novelties, this work constitutes a veritable gold mine.” – Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword, Preface, Abbreviations
1. The Reformers, Scripture and narrative
2. Passion and the nature of God (Gen.6-9)
3. God in hostile form (Gen. 32:22-32)
4. Unbelieving humanity and a sense of God (Jonah 1-4)
5. ‘If Issac must be killed, the promise is void’ (Gen. 22)
6. Luther’s us eof Jacob’s Ladder (Genesis 28:10-22)
7. Luther’s Noachic self-understanding (Gen.6-9)
8. ‘Reduced to nothing.’ The call of a prophet (Isa. 6)
9. “Strong faith in the midst of sin’ (Jonah 1-2)
10. Luther and Calvin on rape (Gen. 34 / 2 Sam 13)
11. Sexual guilt and restoration (2 Sam 11-12 / Psalm 51)
12. Luther, Calvin and Old Testament narrative
Notes, Bibliography, Indexes

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