The Compassionate God of Traditional Jewish and Christian Exegesis

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The comparison in the Zohar (Noah, 67b-68a) of Noah, Abraham and Moses serves as the starting point of this paper. Its aim is to investigate how traditional Jewish (e.g. the Targum, Midrashim, the Talmud, the medieval commentators) and Christian (e.g. the New Testament, the Church Fathers, Luther and Calvin) exegetes interpret the responses of these three individuals to divine foreknowledge (Gen. 6-7; 18:16-33; Exod. 32:10-14). Two main responses are suggested -intercession and/or proclamation of repentance. As shall become apparent, strikingly similar answers are given. First, foreknowledge is seen by nearly all scholars, regardless of religious affiliation and historical background, as a veiled hint at the possibility of influencing God, with the desired result of cancelling the prediction. Secondly, the majority of scholars read intercession and/or repentance into these texts to a greater extent than the texts themselves warrant. This uniformity suggests that the questions asked are shared by people across the borders of time and specific denominations. Even so, there are differences: Jewish scholars tend to emphasise the motif of intercession, existing or non-existing, on behalf of the guilty, while Christian ones are more prone to stress the idea of repentance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-207
Number of pages25
JournalTyndale Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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