Sunday, October 21, 2012

Esther as godless woman then Christ type: Mark Driscoll's interpretive mojo part 4

NUMBERS 2 & 3: Driscoll on God’s presence, sans a serious consideration of prophets and narrative literature

Believe it or not we’re not done discussing flaws in Driscoll’s defense of his Option #3.  His first reason was weak enough but Driscoll’s going to give us more reasons he thinks his version of Esther makes sense.

Number two: she’s living far away from God. The command was given, again through Isaiah: go to Jerusalem. That’s where the presence of God is. She’s not there. She’s living far away from the presence of God.

Number three: she’s disobeying the commands of God through Isaiah and she’s living in rebellion, just like we do.

Driscoll's got a problem with reasons 2 and 3 for why Esther didn't start off as a godly woman.  The problem with reason 2 is the point about being far away from God because she wasn't in Jerusalem.  That problem looks curiously like Ezekiel 1:

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.   On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity,   the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.

Ezekiel was a book written in an exilic context.  To propose that God was in one place and that you had to go there to be where God was becomes unsustainable post-Ezekiel.  Ezekiel's prophetic ministry brings the revolutionary idea along that even in exile Yahweh is still the God of Israel and that Yahweh is not a territorial god who is limited to speaking to His people within a Temple system. All the tools prescribed within the Torah for relating to or connecting to God in the temple system had been destroyed or carried off by and large, yet Ezekiel encountered God. Driscoll’s “Number two” is just a number two. 

The problem with “Number three”, saying Esther was disobeying God’s command through Isaiah is less obvious if you haven't made a point of reading Ezra/Nehemiah and it connects to Driscoll's insistence that we not read into a text a pious thing that isn't there.  Let’s grant, for just a moment, that Driscoll is right to say that where the Bible is not clear we should avoid making too bold a claim about something. 

Driscoll leans heavily on the idea that Isaiah predicted a return from exile and that Ezra and Nehemiah were the guys heading up the rebuilding of the Temple.  Driscoll, per Number Two, has insisted that Jerusalem is where God’s presence is.  But let’s consider temple dedication in 1 Kings 6-8 and 2 Chronicles 5-7.  A cloud filled the Temple and the glory of the Lord was present in the Temple with His people. Now go look at the temple dedication described in Ezra/Nehemiah.  There is no indication that God comes and makes His presence known in the Temple the way He did for the Temple of Solomon.  That's not the most mundane detail for considering post-exilic narrative literature, is it? 

See if Driscoll wants to insist on the point that we can't assume something is in a biblical text when the biblical text doesn't spell it out then “Number three” is an argument that's stillborn for anyone who takes his methodology seriously and has actually read Ezra/Nehemiah. Maybe Hadassah and Mordecai didn't return to Jerusalem because there was no report of the return of the presence of the Lord to the Temple.  After all, if the presence of God had actually descended on the Temple that Ezra and Nehemiah worked on you would think they’d have made a point of saying so! 

Suffice it to say, if Driscoll wants to say Mordecai and Esther should have been in Jerusalem because that's where God's people were supposed to be by referencing Isaiah he completely fails for two simple reasons:  1) God revealed he was God everyone to Ezekiel before the exile could be considered over and 2) Ezra/Nehemiah had not, in fact, indicated that God had come to dwell among Israel in the new temple they’d built in Jerusalem.  Driscoll scores a double fail with Number Three, unfortunately.

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