Old Testament jerks


Ever notice how all the “good guys” in the Old Testament turn out to be jerks? Tim and Nate talk about a narrative technique Tim calls “snowballing”, where the Biblical authors intentionally try to get us excited about each new hero figure, only to let us down in the end. It is this pattern that allowed Jesus to look back and say all these stories pointed to him.


Nate: Welcome back to Almost Heretical. We are jumping back into the How the Bible Works series. We took a few weeks off to have some guest interviews. We talked to Tim Mackie. If you haven’t heard those, go back and listen to them, but now we’re going to get back into talking about the Bible. So Tim, what are we looking at this week?

Tim: Well, we’re going to talk about something that I have come to call “snowballing.” So far I haven’t found any other scholars that have used that term; I’m sure someone out there has at some point. But it’s an analogy that has felt apt for me in terms of my studies. Lots of people have talked about this thing, they just haven’t used the term snowballing. But that’s the theme, and I think we’re going to do two episodes. This first one, we’re just going to talk about what this is, how it works, and look at one brief example, and then in the next episode we’re going to cover one big, really interesting and really significant example of snowballing in the Old Testament.

Nate: Wait, wait, okay, hold on. So snowballing, let me just try to do this. That seems like it’s going to be talking about one idea being carried forward, but not just carried forward and talked about again, but built upon each time it’s talked about? So the second person would share the original idea and kind of add a little bit more to it; and then the third person would share the original idea, the added-on piece, and then their own little thing; and then eventually it just builds this bigger idea that has been built upon all along. Is that close to what we’re talking about here?

Tim: Yeah, exactly. It’s just that picture of a small little piece of snow or ice starts rolling down a hill with snow on it, and everytime it rolls, it’s gathering a few more snowflakes and crystals and it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So it’s adding layers and layers. So it starts with something small, seems relatively insignificant, and by the end you have this massive snowball. But I also think part of the analogy, which we’ll look at, is that if you were to dissect that snowball, it would be made up of multiple layers, and in what we’ll see, this snowballing can happen both with ideas and themes, it can happen actually with prophecies and predictions of what’s to come or hopes and expectations of what needs to happen, and it can happen with characters. So we’re primarily going to look at snowballing with characters, but all of these ideas, prophecies, characters, all kind of gets lumped together, and what we’ll see is this snowball from beginning to end that’s a part of this—

Nate: I got a better name.

Tim: What is it?

Nate: Jawbreaker.

Tim: Yeah, but that doesn’t take into account how it was made.

Nate: You don’t know how they’re made.

Tim: Unless you think jawbreakers are made by starting a little sprinkle and rolling it down a hill of sugar!

Nate: They’re absolutely—have you seen the layering that’s in there? They have to be made that way! You have to start with probably a little—

Tim: I also don’t think any younger than 20 knows what a jawbreaker is. I haven’t seen one in so long.

Nate: Are you kidding me?

Tim: I don’t know, do kids eat them anymore?

Nate: Did you keep them in a—because you couldn’t eat it at one time, so you had to keep it in the ziploc? I was always done at that point, like—

Tim: Oh, you couldn’t feel your tongue anymore?

Nate: No, I didn’t want to pull some slobbery mess out of a ziploc bag and try to consume that again at some point in the future. My sister liked doing that; I never, I was done. A couple licks, I was done.

Tim: Okay, well let’s do the episodes, and then I’ll check back with you and you can tell whether you still think jawbreaker is as good or better to the snowball metaphor.

Nate: I’m just getting hungry now.

Tim: Okay, so! Let’s think about characters. So Nate, I’m going to ask you a question. I want you to think of all the main characters, whether they’re heroes or villains, good guys, bad guys, kind of the big names in the Bible. And I want you to answer the question or reflect on the question, “Are they good people or bad people?” So say, let’s name some names here. Let’s say Moses.

Nate: [laughing] Name-dropping! Moses?

Tim: Moshe. Good or bad?

Nate: Um, did a lot of good things, I guess.

Tim: Uh… Okay, or like Samson? You, probably like me, have felt completely frustrated hearing people preach about Samson as some mighty man of God hero, right?

Nate: No, I’ve always had a problem with that. And then we pull the one story out where they did something kind of noble and we’re like, “See? He’s a man after God’s own heart!” But they’ actually were pretty terrible a lot of times. And I’m not just talking about David; I know I used that line there. But a lot of times the person was actually pretty bad. Outside of the women; a lot of times the women were pretty good. But the dudes in the Bible are pretty bad dudes, and then we pull out the one story and we’re like, “Yay, look! It’s amazing!”

Tim: Yeah, so… Or I think the David example is classic, because I think people rightly see in the biblical texts, especially 1 and 2 Samuel, that a lot of positive attributes are seemingly attached to David, right? Like the line you just said, a man after God’s heart is this kind of summary line that seems to be saying this is a great dude. And so you get to David raping Bathsheba and murdering her husband, and you have a long history of Christian preachers whitewashing that story and making it seem like it’s not so bad, in large part because they don’t know how to reconcile murder and rape with, “This is a really good dude and we should all look up to him.” So they end up leaning towards one side or the other, and I think most people in evangelical world lean towards David as the hero. But largely I think what we’re seeing is there are dual testimonies in the same set of stories saying, “This dude is great,” and, “This dude is awful.” And we don’t really know how to make sense out of both sets of information. Does that sound resonant with your experience?

Nate: Yes. I don’t have a problem if we just kind of leave it there like, “Did good things. Did bad things.” That’s a human existence; what do we do with it? Can we call the bad things bad? It’s when it’s Christian-ed up and sugarcoated up and—I just don’t like when we call bad things good because of a line like, “He was a man after God’s own heart,” and so we have to look back at his life and somehow this was all good! You know? When we’re calling bad things good.

Tim: Yeah, totally! So here’s the thing, I think when we look at this literary device that I’m calling snowballing, it’s intentional that the main heroic characters, usually the leaders or the next king or the redeemer figures are presented as being good guys in part and then bad guys in part. That’s intentional and we’re not supposed to bumble over, ignoring one piece of information, say, “Well Samson did some bad things, but he was really a good dude!” Or, “David messed up, he had a moral failing with Bathsheba, but he was really good—” We’re not supposed to do that. Actually, it’s creating this device where we’re supposed to be getting our hopes up that this was the guy, this is the one we’ve been waiting for who’s going to do it, and then our hopes gets shattered right in front of us. We’re being led on this literary journey that is supposed to escalate our expectations and then shatter our expectations so that what we looked for in David or in Moses or in Noah that ultimately those individual characters failed to provide gets pushed forward, kicked down the line, and that’s what I mean by snowballing. Is then we have to look beyond that character, that part in the history or in the story, to some character in the future who will then fulfill what this character failed to fulfill.

Nate: Gotcha, gotcha. It’s probably jumping ahead to say, “Jesus,” right?

Tim: It is jumping ahead! We’ll get there, but yeah, ultimately part of the heart of messianic expectations in the Hebrew Bible has very little to do with somebody saying, “Hey, here’s a prediction that comes from God! It’s this magical oracle! This guy’s going to be born at this point; he’s going to look like this; he’ll do these things. That’ll be the one!” And it has more to do with this literary snowballing that begins with Adam and Eve in the garden and snowballs from one story and one chapter to the next throughout the Hebrew Bible. And eventually what we’ll see is, it rolls right off the last page of the Hebrew Bible. In other words, the last hero figure within the Old Testament is another one of these failed messiahs, and the Hebrew Bible itself is saying, literarily, we have to look beyond the pages of these stories, beyond all of these characters, to someone who’s going to come from beyond these texts. You’re supposed to look towards the future. So it is, this snowball running through the hero figure, so the snowball in terms of character, and the sort of prophetic expectations of these deliverers who would rise and save Israel or lead Israel into freedom or redeem the people and shepherd them to truly worship Yahweh. All of those kind of characterological expectations, they keep getting pushed forward and forward, and they’re building and building so that the expectations placed on Jesus, or that Jesus says, He’s fulfilling these expectations, are far greater even than the expectations of earlier characters like David, like Moses, like Noah.

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Nate: Hi friends, it’s Nate. Real quick interruption. Just wanted to say, if you have any questions or thoughts or want to share your story with us, we would be so honored to hear that. And also, special announcement, our shows are now being transcribed, thank you Sarah. So if you want to read these shows instead or as well, you can now do that. And also, if you want to help support the show, that would be awesome as well. You can do this all at almostheretical.com

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Tim: So if that idea makes decent enough sense, Nate, then let me just show you a little bit of how it works and a little bit of evidence that this is an intentional device. So first story, we could talk about Genesis 1, 2, and 3 forever and ever and ever, but one noteworthy thing is that, for all that we could talk about the snake and the scene where there’s this fruit and temptation and they take the fruit, one thing that Bible readers and scholars have noticed over the centuries is that it is rather vague and intentionally ambiguous as to the moral failings of Adam and Eve. In other words, what exactly did they do wrong that was sinful or immoral in your view, or in—?

Nate: The answer is just, they didn’t listen to God. They didn’t follow God’s rule. Is eating a fruit off of a tree a bad thing? No, but if God told you not to do it, then it’s a bad thing.

Tim: Yeah, I think that’s simple enough. But basically, at the end of the day, they did just eat a piece of a fruit, right? So you can say, and people always will say very loudly, “This was clear sin! God told them not to do this, they didn’t do this, they didn’t listen, they didn’t trust God, they chose their own way, they’re proud, they’re arrogant!” Whatever. And that can all be true, and at the end of the day, all they did was they ate a piece of fruit off a tree, right? But then, so look at the next story. So you have these characters. It’s set up as things were really good, right? Everything is close to goodness in the garden, and then because of this thing that we historically, traditionally have called a “fall,” things turn really bad. And then you read a few chapters and you’re introduced to this guy named Noah, who is said will be the one to bring rest to the people. Remember, one of the curses of the fall in Genesis 3 is there’s going to be this hard toil. It’s like hard work; basically life’s going to be miserable. And so then this guy Noah is said to come and bring rest to this toil. He’s going to be the one hero to save humanity from what just happened in the garden of Eden. And then there’s a flood, they get out of the flood, the boat lands on the new mountaintop where essentially Noah acts as a priest, mediates with God. It looks like everything is going perfectly to plan and peace and salvation is about to come, and then as we talked about with Tim recently, there’s this bizarre and intentionally ambiguous story in Genesis 9 with something happening with Noah’s son. Right, we looked at how that could be read two ways. Either Noah has a fall where Noah actually engages in this weird incestuous sexual relationship with his son, and he sins essentially, or something is done to Noah and Noah is an entirely innocent party. So once again you have a second story where things seem to be going really well, you’re getting your hopes up. You’re supposed to be asking yourself, “Oh, is Noah going to be the one to set everything right?” You’re supposed to start thinking, “Yes, he is,” and get your hopes up. And then you have this strange set of circumstances that manages, and this is the really interesting piece, to suggest that no, Noah wasn’t the one, and preserve the idea that Noah was a really righteous archetypal figure. Does that makes sense?

Nate: Yeah. So close to being the one in maybe a lot of ways, but kind of failing in some other key ways. But like, “Hey, we’ll look for something similar to this in the next guy,” kind of thing!

Tim: Yeah! So we looked at how you can read the Genesis 9 story in two ways, and it’s actually built to read it two ways. So one of the effects it has on the character of Noah is that when you read it as his son raping his wife in order to overthrow him—and you’ve already read that Noah was basically this perfectly righteous figure who trusted God, did everything he was supposed to do, saves his family, la-di-da—you actually get to the end of Noah’s life and you can honestly say that Noah never did anything wrong. That the biblical texts that you just read, the stories about Noah, that he really was this righteous figure, and yet you have to admit that Noah wasn’t the one. He was not the hero to accomplish these things. And that is part of the purpose of creating this duel ending, one where Noah sucks and does something wrong, and one where something wrong is done to Noah, is it preserves more and more of Noah’s character, the positive aspects of his character, such as he was the one who trusted God was going to do what He said, even though he had no reason in the world to trust, to build this ark when there was no rain and no flood. That those positive characteristics get kicked forward to the next character in the story so we can still think highly of Noah but know that the story wasn’t ultimately pointing to Noah himself.

Nate: But how does that kick forward, I guess? How would him trusting God to build the ark even though there was no rain, how does that—I don’t hear the next character being talked about as, they built an ark. I don’t understand how that’s kicking forward.

Tim: Okay, so we’ll skip some here. From Noah, then you have Abraham who goes through a series of ten tests of whether he’s going to trust God, whether he’s going to do what Noah did in trusting God’s promise to do something good for them, right? So in Noah’s case, he’s supposed to build an ark because there’s this big bad storm coming. And in Abraham’s case, it’s saying, “You’re old and infertile, but I’m going to promise that you’re going to have kids and have this great family one day.” And you’re supposed to be seeing in Abraham a recapitulation, another Noah-like figure, and you’re supposed to be asking the question, “Oh, will Abraham do what Noah did well, will Abraham do that well also? But then will Abraham somehow keep from letting it all fall to pieces like what happened in Genesis 9?” And then that ball gets kicked forward to Isaac and to Jacob, who’s Israel, and then to Joseph, who’s a really important one which we’ll touch on in a bit. But fast forward and you get to the time of slavery in Egypt, and Moses is this new big redeemer-hero figure. And how does Moses show up on the scene? He is one of the Israelite babies who’s destined to be murdered by the state, and he’s put into a little, it’s called an ark. We always called it a basket, but the word literally is ark. It’s the same exact word as the boat that Noah built back in Genesis. He’s put into a little ark with tar pitch covering it, floats down water and is redeemed out from the water. So immediately you have this clue of Noah on an ark that’s covered in pitch who gets saved out onto dry land, and then Moses, this new figure who gets put into an ark covered in pitch, gets brought out of water onto dry land.

Nate: Okay, yeah, yeah. That makes sense. I see the connection with that because the word is the same. If it was just, Noah did, he listened God, and then Abraham listened to God. Or, “Will he listen to God?” And then he does or he doesn’t or whatever. That seems like a pretty loose connection, but then when you are showing me that the word ark is the same from that story I can see the literary theme of being saved out of the water in an ark kind of thing from Noah.

Tim: Right. And some of this is simple, too. I mean, before we started I could ask you, “Who are some of the main hero figures in the Bible?” And you would know several of them just based on how many pages and words they’re given, right? Like we know there are a lot of other characters in the exodus story, but not many of them are given nearly as much attention as Moses. Like the story itself presents Moses as the—what’s the word for hero?

Nate: Protagonist.

Tim: The protagonist, thank you. We kind of know that intrinsically. Even just the opening, all of a sudden you meet this little baby. Why do we care about this little baby? But then think about the parallels that are intentionally written in here. Noah’s told, “This really bad thing’s going to happen. I’m going to use you if you trust that I will deliver your people, your family, through this bad thing, and you act in faith on that promise, then I will actually be able to set things right.” Okay, then look at Moses, “This really bad thing is going to happen, all these plagues, this whole war with Pharaoh. But if you trust me, I will use you to deliver your entire family, all your kin, all the Israelites into the promised land.” So Noah and the people on the ark get out of the flood, they land on this mountaintop, and it ends up being this place for a new temple sanctuary. What happens once the Israelites leave Egypt? They end up going to Mount Sinai where they have this mountaintop moment with God. There are all these literary parallels. But what you’ll see is that the positive characteristics, for instance, trusting God, get jumped from Adam failed to trust God, then Noah looks like he did a really good job of trusting God but it didn’t, ultimately it was impartial or imperfect. Then same thing goes with Abraham, he has moments when he trusts God and moments when he doesn’t, that gets pushed forward to Moses. And then fascinatingly again, do you remember why Moses gets banned from entering the promised land?

Nate: Is it because he hit the rock?

Tim: Yeah! And why was he not supposed to hit the rock?

Nate: Um, because God was going to provide water a different way.

Tim: Possibly. But actually, no one freaking knows. Jewish and Christian Bible nerds and scholars have wondered why the biblical text says Moses hit a rock and then God banishes him from the promised land. What is lacking in any of the biblical texts is why that was an immoral thing and warranted a guy, who had seemingly been faithful and presented as being a great faithful leader for years and years and years and years, gets basically ousted at the very end and left to die alone without seeing the fruition of his labors because he smacked a rock with a stick. Right?

Nate: Yeah. I’ve always had problems with that one, too.

Tim: Yeah, but again, so let’s not try to figure it out and resolve it, let’s actually see what it does literarily. So when you see this strange thing being strange and morally ambiguous, again what it can let you do is hold a picture in your mind of Moses as this preserved archetypal hero. There is no major stain on Moses’ character. He doesn’t, for instance, rape someone and murder their husband. He’s not presented in the protestant, Calvinistic sense as without sin. The Hebrew Bible doesn’t talk in those terms, whether he was perfect or imperfect. We’re not talking about that kind of language, certainly not like, “Would he get into heaven? Would he get into hell?” That’s not at all what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is, was he a true hero figure? Was he some whose positive characteristics actually help save and deliver Israel? The answer is yes. Did it ultimately bring perfect freedom, liberation, healing, renewal, restoration to Israel? No, it didn’t. He was imperfect and incomplete in what he was able to offer the people.

Nate: So can some of that not be his fault? I feel like he did the best he could, right? He didn’t actually do anything to not do that; he just didn’t—maybe he didn’t live long enough!

Tim: [laughing] Possibly, but what the text says is that he did do something, hitting this rock, that did deem him as—and again, this is our language, it’s not the Bible’s language—an imperfect or insufficient hero. So it was in part his fault. He is actually punished for it. But then what happens? The end of Deuteronomy, the beginning of book—

Nate: Wait, is that almost supposed to not distract us from… to get hung up on what he actually did? Where it’s like, “Oh, he hit a rock!” Basically just saying he wasn’t the one.

Tim: Exactly! That’s exactly what it’s saying.

Nate: You know what I mean? We’re not supposed to get hung up on all the bad stuff that Moses did. It’s just like, “I’m just going to tell you he wasn’t the one, and it’s because he hit a rock,” kind of thing. It’s almost inconsequential.

Tim: Yes! Yeah, that idea, Nate. He wasn’t the one; that is exactly right. He wasn’t the one; he was another layer on a snowball that has now gotten even bigger since Adam.

Nate: Jawbreaker.

Tim: But he wasn’t the one! This thing’s going to have to keep rolling down the hill. He didn’t save the world, right? He didn’t lead to a return to goodness in the garden, so look beyond Moses to someone else. But here’s what we can learn: all of the good things that Moses did that the story literarily tries to highlight for us? For instance, he is the one who boldly spoke truth to Pharaoh and then was enabled in this great exodus to lead people out of slavery into freedom. That piece, that theme, that piece of leadership, the deliverer, the liberator? That now gets added onto the snowball as a central piece.

Nate: It’s another piece we’re looking for in this messiah figure. That’s what you’re saying. Each of these stories, we get another piece. They’re going to be someone that like Noah will listen to God and do the thing that God wanted them to do, even if no one else is listening, it’s not raining or whatever. And then like Abraham also did those things, and then like Moses is going to lead the people to redemption in some way. So all these pieces are getting added onto this messiah figure that we’re looking for, and there’s going to be more is what you’re saying.

Tim: Exactly. And so the next one then is Joshua. It’s explicitly stated, Joshua needs to take up the mantle where Moses left off, and then what does the book of Joshua say? His main task, he’s supposed to do everything that Moses did, but then he’s supposed to essentially enact this conquering of the, and we’ve talked about it in the past, these evil semi-god, semi-human giant cosmic figures who are like these warlords in the land of Canaan. Joshua’s supposed to do everything that Moses did, and he’s supposed to be this military hero who purges the land of these evil semi-gods.

Nate: For more on that, go back and listen to our first series. I don’t even remember what it was called. I think it’s called intro on the website. Just, almostheretical.com, click on ‘Series.’

Tim: What does the book of Joshua say? It says, “Joshua did everything he was supposed to do!” And the whole time you’re reading it you’re like, “This guy was great! He’s the new hero figure, he’s like Moses and Noah and Adam and Abraham and then some,” and then you get to the end and it’s like, “Well, but he didn’t get rid of everybody.” And then the story goes on! So you just have this one little, it seems inconsequential, right? When you read the line in the book of Joshua that they didn’t purge everybody from the land, you don’t immediately think, “Oh, Joshua was this evil figure!” But what you do realize is that Joshua wasn’t the one. The job hasn’t been accomplished.

Nate: I used to think that it was just like, the Bible was just being hard, the biblical writers just being hard on the guy, and if you did one wrong thing in your life then that’s what you’re going to be remembered for, so don’t mess up! That’s how I often heard it preached and how I probably preached it, like, “Don’t mess up because, look at this! You’re going to be remembered, you’re look through the Kings or the Chronicles, you’re going to be remembered for that one thing, not destroying all the idols in the land or something. You missed one!”

Tim: Totally, because we’re not reading for any of these big literary patterns. We’re actually looking like these are reports of historical figures and then whatever, however God treated them or whatever God said about them or whatever the authors of the Bible say about them is giving us evidence of a rule for how God will treat us, right? And then you get to the terrifying place of like, “Oh well David raped someone and had her husband murdered to cover it up, but the Bible still says he was a man after God’s own heart, so you can do that! That’s not a big deal!”

Nate: Ugh.

Tim: “But look at the Moses story or the Adam and Eve story. If you ever listen to another voice that isn’t the word of God, you will be banished and sent into exile and you deserve death.” It’s like so missing the freaking point!

Nate: But this is why we do this show is because this is so important! People will use that, this is where you can get a guy like Donald Trump being supported and lifted up by some of the biggest evangelical leaders as the “Chosen One by God,” because, “Hey, don’t look at the, we all make mistakes, we all do,” even though there’s no repentance and continually making those mistakes, “we all do those—” Because you’re looking at guys like this in the Bible and saying, “Yeah, but, I mean, David…” I think David was actually used, wasn’t he, by Franklin Graham or… I don’t want to say someone’s name that didn’t actually say this, but I think I’ve seen that where they’re using David to say, “Hey, you can be—you can rape somebody and still be considered ‘after God’s own heart.’”

Tim: Yeah. Wild. Well, pick up most of this next time. I think we’ll just leave it here. So from Joshua, you have essentially the story that he did a pretty good job getting rid of these evil cosmic aliens, but it was incomplete. And then after the book of Joshua, you have the book of Judges, which goes through this list of really morally mixed, if not completely evil, morally decrepit hero figures, but what the book of Judges is doing largely is adding the war hero profile onto this snowball as it’s rolling forward. So you have hero figures in this snowballing line, people like Gideon and Jephthah and Samson, who are not good people, and so it sounds very strange to call them hero figures. What they’re doing, they’re adding an element of the cosmic conquest, the war against the forces of evil, which will eventually be Christus Victor and the war against demons and all that. They’re adding that profile to this snowball as it rolls forward, and then all the things that these guys are doing terribly wrong, like violence, like being evil towards other people, war crimes, abuses of power; those get added to the snowball as warnings. So what you have is this growing ball, in my metaphor, of expectations where the positive attributes are growing and the negative attributes that need to be avoided are growing.

Nate: All in this profile for the messiah, for what we’re looking for, in this person that’s going to save us.

Tim: Exactly. So each time you get to a new character, you’re supposed to look back and say, “Okay it’s going to need to be someone who, say, was faithful and trusted even when they had no reason to trust, like Noah, like Abraham, like Moses. But also someone doesn’t let power go to their head and doesn’t do violence like Samson, like Gideon.” And that reaches not a pinnacle but a next stage in the development with David, who, the first thing David does is he picks up where Joshua and these judges left off. He kills Goliath and Goliath’s family of giants and finally with David, the last of these Nephilim-giant-supervillains is killed off. So David has now just done in full what all of these others starting with Joshua did only incompletely. But then in this building theme of power and violence and whether those who are in positions of leadership will use their positions for evil, then David is shown as giving into that par excellence, and so David uses his power as king to get what he wants, even at the cost of other people’s lives. And that is the point of the Bathsheba story, is David did a bunch of really good things and he added some new layers, like all the piece with writing psalms and this prayerful devotion, kind of priestly king motif, he adds that to it. But then he also basically adds this whole exasperated layer of, the kind of person who’s in this role to be Israel’s hero, will the very fact that they’re in that role be the thing that leads to their destruction? And then of course after David you have Solomon who just becomes the new Pharaoh of the people. So all that to say, we’ve sort of latched on, at least in the tradition I come from, you’ll find Moses or Abraham or David, you’ll say, “These are the good guys. These are the heroes,” right? We’ll kind of skip the fact that these are just new chapters in the same, growing, escalating snowball. We’ll think that we’re supposed to highlight David as the pinnacle. You know, he’s like the top of the top, he’s as good as it gets, and that makes us feel like we have to whitewash the negative things. That’s exactly the opposite of what the Bible’s trying to get us to do. It’s to get excited about David and then be totally disappointed about David. So like you just said, David’s not the one, but David will add some stuff to the snowball to teach us what to look for and what not to look for in the next ‘one’ to come.

Nate: Which is basically exactly what David does to us if we’re just responding to his life without trying to make some big, “Yeah, but he was a man after God’s own heart, so everything was good!” If you just actually look at his life, it’s like, “Oh, sweet, he’s good—ohh he just did that. Man!” You know that’s how you actually respond to him, which I like about this because that’s what you’re supposed to do with these people.

Tim: Okay. Before we end, I just want to give a caveat. As we go through this whole Old Testament snowball of Israel’s heroes, I’ll just admit the awkward piece here: they’re all men. This isn’t because I’m just looking for men as heroes. This is because this is patriarchal literature written in a patriarchal culture to a patriarchal culture that never would have nominated women as its kings, as its leaders. So you have women in prominent positions of leadership, like Deborah the prophet and whatnot, but there’s no doubt that the Jewish tradition looked entirely, solely, to men as its kings and therefore as its messiah figures. If I were to write the story, I would do it differently, and I think Christianity and Jesus Himself basically took that story and turned it upside down, like we talked about in our gender series, mostly on Paul. Just don’t want you all to get hung up thinking that because the Old Testament supposedly “feels masculine,” because all the main characters are men, that someone Christianity or the Bible as a whole is putting forth patriarchy as the way forward. It’s not. It’s telling a story about a very patriarchal world, and where that story leads to is Jesus and the end of patriarchy.

Nate: Alright, this has been one more installment in How the Bible Works. Come back next time for a little bit more on that. And if you have any questions, thoughts, want to share your story, you can do that at almostheretical.com.

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