Was the sacrifice of God’s son a departure from Old Testament ethics? There are many ways to approach this question, the one I’m most comfortable with is to acknowledge that Christ as the Second Adam willingly chose to complete our story in order to redeem us which meant undergoing death, a death that was in keeping with the Father’s will. How this relates to the question is something I need to think through so more.

There are other suggestions as well, one thesis I’m working through in my readings on atonement over the winter holiday is Jon Levenson’s arguement for continuity between the Testaments on this ethical question. Levenson suggests that child sacrifice far from being merely an area of reproach by Israel’s prophets was a virtuous practice for some characters. He does this of course by pointing to Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, and Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter (Levenson believe’s he did sarifice her), and Mesha’s sacrifice of his suceeding son in the midst of Israel’s seige. 

As a writer I find Levenson to be a pleasure to read, the way he raises questions from silence in the text or ancient interpretation traditions and illuminates areas I would otherwise have passed over is something I’m indebted to him for. I am only in the first 40 pages of The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son, I’ll be posting more latter with greater detail.  Here are a few questions I’m musing over;

Is it possible for their to be ethic(s) in the Old Testament, either contrasting or developing (the latter I’m more comfortable with, as revelation was given further light was added to their faithfulness)?

Do we read our Old Testaments with an eye for both the silence present within familiar texts and counter examples to ethical interpretations we’ve long held, or do we continue to read out ethical norms of today back onto them? I find its very difficult to read the Old Testament in its ANE context, with an eye toward ancient interpretative traditions, and a keen awareness to the transmission of the Hebrew or Aramaic text, while also making the connections between our text and its immediate OT context.

What do you think of the abreviated thesis of Levenson I posted above? Linked to this, let me ask you, was the sacrifice of God’s son a departure from Old Testament ethics?