The Divine Warrior Motif (OT/NT)

If you’re looking for a solid and relatively easy to read book that traces the Divine Warrior motif through the OT and NT, you’ll want to get God is a Warrior by Tremper Longman and Daniel Reid (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).  The layout is pretty straightforward.  The first part of the book is about God the Warrior in the OT.  In this first part, there is also a helpful section on the divine warrior motif in Ancient Near Eastern literature (i.e. Enuma Elish and the Ugarit Baal text).  The second part of the book is about the divine warrior motif in the NT, specifically how Jesus is the Warrior in his life, death, resurrection, and parousia.

The authors explain the structure of the book as a reflection of five stages found in biblical literature.

“The first stage is God’s appearance as a warrior who fights on behalf of his people Israel against their flesh-and-blood enemies.  The second stage overlaps with the first, yet culminates Israel’s independent political history as God fights in judgment against Israel itself.  The OT period ends during the third stage as Israel’s prophets look to the future and proclaim the advent of a powerful divine warrior.”

“The Gospels and letters [in the NT] reflect on the fourth stage, Christ’s earthly ministry as the work of a conqueror, though they also look forward to the next stage.  The fifth and final stage is anticipated by the church as it awaits the return of the divine warrior who will judge the spiritual and human enemies of God.”

Here is what the authors’ desire for the readers.

“It is our hope to lay bare the outline of the biblical-theological development of the theme [of God as divine warrior] and in this way provide a grid for the reader to understand other passages and texts.”

In my opinion, the authors get the job done; for me, the book broadened the deep biblical theme of God the conquering warrior.  Of course, as with other biblical truths, this is one of those that is deeply comforting for the Christian Pilgrim: The Lord is a Warrior! Jesus – who is God – sovereignly fights for, guards, and protects his people.

(The above quotes are from chapter one, which is an introduction to the book.)

shane lems