The Savage God of the Old Testament

Dr. Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

In his book Our Savage God, Robert Zaehner speaks of Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, as a God who “appears in a savage guise.” According to Zaehner (1974: 232), Yahweh is the frenzied God who storms and rages throughout the Old Testament. The savage God is the God who is vengeful, radical and repugnant (1974: 225). The savage God is a God who is cruel and violent, unjust and harsh in his dealings with the Israelites and with people from other nations. The notion of the savagery of God arises when people are unable to reconcile the love of God with a God who is a righteous judge and with God’s demands for righteousness and justice. The God of the Bible is a merciful and loving God, but he is also a God who requires justice from people.

According to some people, the savage God of the…

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