The Abiding Presence: a theological commentary on Exodus by Mark Scarlata
If, as Brent Strawn claims in his book, the Old Testament is dying, perhaps one response is to re-read it theologically as Mark Scarlata does in his book. As the title suggests, this is a theological reading of the text, and comes highly recommended by a number of respected scholars. Each chapter is a careful reading of the text, a summary and then a ‘New Testament’ section in which the themes identified are linked to New Testament ideas.
The purpose of the commentary is ‘to offer a reading of Exodus that concentrates on the final form and the theological meaning of the story.’ Exodus presents a story of divine presence, according to Scarlata, and the first chapter headings underline this: Presence in Absence, Presence in a Name, Presence in Creation. Chapter 5 moves on to exploring the series of stories that make up the wilderness wanderings. Chapter 6 begins the second movement of the Divine Presence and considers holiness and law. Chapter 7 explores the meaning of Tabernacle as a way of Creating Space for the Divine. The importance of Exodus 32-34 is considered in chapter 8, Sin at Sinai, the most detailed Old Testament narrative concerning sin, judgement and mercy. Chapter 9 moves to the Climax of Creation, and the end of Exodus.
This is not a book to sit down and read cover to cover. But for preachers who are concerned to preach the Old Testament in engaging and life-giving ways it provides a faithful and in-depth interpretation of the book of Exodus.
Review by Neville Manning, a retired Anglican Priest assisting in churches in the Eastbourne area in the Diocese of Chichester
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