Thursday, June 18, 2020

Is it chance? Or is it God? Or can it be both?

What the chapter [1 Sam 9, Saul and the lost donkeys] evidently means to thematize is not simply a high view of providence but also the contrast between how providence works and how it appears when it does. The chapter’s theological purpose is no doubt to provide reassurance to the implied reader that God is in control despite how things seem, but this reassurance is not given in such a way as to sweep aside as misinformed or ignorant the admittedly real difficulty of spotting God in action. Religious faith, the chapter is saying, can embrace the epistemological deficits of human experience. Indeed, those deficits are themselves marks of true faith and genuine faith experience. This insight will be pressed even further in the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible (whether to the breaking point or past the breaking point is debated), and so more references to miqreh cluster in Ecclesiastes than in any other biblical book. Ecclesiastes is thus not the first biblical book to recognize the tension between the objective and subjective aspects of divine providence, but it might be the first one to pull them apart by questioning the objective reality of providence from the subjective perspective of its human participants.—Stephen B. Chapman in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, 195

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