Top 12 of CiHD: #12

For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (the first week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.


As we begin our look at the Top 12 Blog Posts of Covered in His Dust, we’re going to begin as any good countdown does — at the bottom! Let’s start with my twelfth-most-viewed blog post. It happens to be “The Redemption Cycle,” a post I published on December 26, 2013. It discusses the big ideas undergirding the book of Judges, and I contest the idea that the cycle represented there should be described as a “sin cycle.” You can read the post here.

In this series, as we look at each post, I want to ask three questions: why, what, and what else? Why do I think this post got so many views; why were others drawn to this post? What do I hope people found when they got here; what do I hope they heard? Finally, what else have I learned about this; what else would I say about these ideas?


WHY THIS POST?

To be honest, one of the things you are going to get every time we do this is a very cynical and objective look at why people hit this post. The truth of the matter is that most of these page views are coming from web searches from people’s favorite search engines. Chances are good that many of these views came from people who were doing an image search for “cycle in Judges” and happened to click on the image that is linked to my blog.

In a similar fashion, I think many page views came from a Google search that had to do with “cycle” and “book of Judges.” As people were looking more into this idea, they were looking for additional material. Particularly on Google searches, my Google-based blog host is one of the first hits, and away we go. So let’s work with this idea: the people who ran across my blog were studying the book of Judges and the idea that there is an ongoing cycle within the literature.


WHAT DO I HOPE THEY FOUND?

I hope they found an idea that challenged the assumptions they were being handed from other sources. By saying this, I’m not suggesting that I hope they heard the right answer in a debate against what they had been taught. I simply mean to say that I hope they encountered an even bigger idea and that it made them think critically about the implications of the theology that serves as the foundation to our biblical interpretation — let alone our doctrine.

When I was handed a worldview that focused on the sinfulness and depravity of man, I found myself stuck in a theology that wasn’t compelling and didn’t inspire me to take up the mission and partner with God. Instead, I found a lot of despair and hopelessness for humanity. The idea that God simply “puts up with us” and with a roll of His eyes He forgives us — yet again — was portrayed quite clearly.

There are many things I can applaud in what I was taught. The fact that Bible teachers were able to show me a literary tool being employed in Judges was fantastic. At that stage of my learning, I hadn’t been exposed to many literary tools; but being handed such a clear and noticeable example launched the beginning of a very critical journey in learning the skills necessary to examine the Text. It was all of the doctrinal assumption that I hope people found critiqued when they got here.


WHAT ELSE WOULD I SAY?

This post really expresses things quite thoroughly and I can’t think of much I would add. I would say I have learned how much scholarship (progressive textual critics, in large part) sees the book of Judges as a parallel record of history to the book of Joshua. What they mean when they say such things is that a redactor later pulled these two stories together and made them read sequentially, but they probably preexisted as different takes on the same period of history. On the one hand, you have the book of Joshua, which tells the story of obedience (for the most part) and God’s help in absolute conquest. However, another historical perspective tells the story of disobedience and God’s incredible patience. These serve as two sides of the historical narrative. For some of us, this may be a bridge too far, but I have been learning much about these theories and find them informative in my ability to think critically about the Text and wrestle with authorial intent.

I would also be remiss to exit this post without recommending Make Your Mark, a book written by a fellow teacher and friend of mine, Brad Gray. While the book focuses on the story of Samson, I find its contents to be helpful as I wrestle with the implications of the stories found in the book of Judges.

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