Johanna van Wijk-Bos presents a theological approach that seeks to draw out “thematic consistency” between the Torah and the Christian message.
Seeking to emphasis the distance between our own world and that of the Bible van Wijk-Bos provides an outline of the historical context of the Torah. Questions of authorship, date, and historicity are dealt with. The book proceeds to work through the ‘story’ of the Torah drawing out the broader principles or “ethos” of the text: A central theme of the Torah is that the relationship of creation to God is a broken one, and that covenant making resolves this brokenness. The Torah provides ‘instruction’ for living as a covenant people. Throughout she is concerned to highlight God’s concern for the weak, symbolised in the gerim.
Finally, van Wijk-Bos turns to the New Testament. Jesus’ law of love is presented as being in continuum with the covenant responsibilities of the Torah, especially in relation to the stranger. Likewise, Paul is presented as emphasising the inclusion of Gentiles in this covenant relationship through Christ, concluding that the covenant relationship of the Torah confers responsibility, not privileged status.van Wijk-Bos’ theological handling of the Torah is engaging on its own terms and should be of interest to a wide readership, it is therefore a shame that the work is advanced as a polemic. van Wijk-Bos aims to counter what she perceives to be a widespread denigration of Jewish religion “prevalent in Christian scholarship, teaching, and preaching” – a claim that is not backed up – the root of which she claims is ignorance since The Torah is “unknown territory for many Christian believers”. This paper tiger is a constant and irritating distraction from an otherwise engaging work.