Published
4.30.2024

The gospel according to Exodus

Welcome to a new series called ‘What is the gospel?’   It builds on the ‘Cross and Creation’ talks that Andrew and I gave. Those talks explored difficulties in the traditional ‘Penal Substitution Model’ but in a sense they left us with a void – what alternative image(s) can replace the Penal model. This is what we now move onto with the ‘What is the gospel’ series.

First cab off the rank is “The gospel according to Exodus”.  It began as a single talk but quickly got so promising and sprawling that we developed it into four parts, each with a separate talk. We developed it with a couple of deep discussions amongst the GC team, but I delivered them.

I am pretty excited by this series and must say that I found the journey personally expansive. I had subconsciously recognised ‘salvation story’ typologies in Exodus but never made much of them – beyond the obvious one of the Passover.  But as we allowed the typology to unfold it got a lot bigger than that. Lots of people have successfully critiqued the PSA model – but in general we are left without strong alternative metaphors, and this is a real problem simply because the penal model is so evocative and strong.

Talk one introduces the journey and I explain the ‘generative’ role that metaphor or analogy plays. I use a technique we developed effectively in 2nd Road called ‘Crossing the River’ and I take some time to explain it.

Of course, modern evangelical biblical criticism is pretty sceptical about any ‘analogical/metaphorical’ reading of the Scriptures. I defend the analogy approach a little bit in the beginning of this talk – but if you want to take it further, then I recommend Richard Hays to you. Hays has written a couple of profound books on a more literary reading of the scriptures – and defends it by explaining how Paul used analogy to ‘read backwards’ into the Scriptures (which for him was what we call the Old Testament).  So Hays’ books are ‘Reading backwards’ and ‘The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scriptures’.

I build some of my ideas on a great essay by George Athas, who is a lecturer in OT at Moore college. His paper is called “The Creation of Israel: the Cosmic Proportions of the the Exodus Event”.  I downloaded it from academia.edu.  He offers us an academically rigorous foundation on which to build a more cosmological reading of the Exodus narrative.

Tony Golsby-Smith

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