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God the Father in the Old Testament

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Abstract

While the idea of God being the Father dominates New Testament studies in relation to Jesus and the followers of Jesus, the Father-God motif rooted in the Old Testament and prominent in the second temple period has received insufficient attention. The concept of God the Father is a broad category but in the Old Testament it is closely related to Israel. When God redeems Israel out of Egypt, he becomes like a Father to it and Israel becomes his son (Exodus 4:22). Thus, for Israel the fatherhood of God is linked to its redemption by God. This relationship began through God's initiative and with the purpose that they will serve and obey God - yet Israel is often unfaithful to him. God is also seen as the Father of the human kings of Israel.

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... Previous research into human fatherhood has largely been based on Christology. For this reason, there has apparently been little progress in understanding what Scripture teaches about human fatherhood (Knobnya, 2011). The basic premise in this article is that human fatherhood originates in the fatherhood of God. ...
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This paper explores the significant position of Scripture and literature in the formulation of fatherhood in the Old Testament. It deals with the Old Testament passages in which God is explicitly called ‘Father’. Human fatherhood originates in the Fatherhood of God. God is the Father of his creation and his people, and the attributes and characteristics of his Fatherhood should be perceived as protection, provision, warmth, gentleness, forgiveness, and involvement so that human parenting can adopt and flow from it. God wants to bring the man to the point where he is doing the will of God, thereby fulfilling his fundamental role and function as earthly father the way God intended it to be. The nature and character of God the Father can channel immense meaning to human fatherhood. Sola Scriptura is crucial for this dynamic concept of fatherhood. The Bible is the main source and authority for human fatherhood because the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible should be read and studied to notice and comprehend God’s original intention with human fatherhood.
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Largely as a result of the breakdown of nuclear families in Western society, rates of fatherlessness are increasing. The purpose of this research is to investigate what impact growing up with an absent or dysfunctional father has on faith development and the perception of God. Although there is a large body of scholarly material which addresses the influence of one’s father on the perception of God, there is no consensus as to how this influence is exhibited. Nor has there been any significant inquiry into the impact of fatherlessness on faith development specifically. Researchers have tended to ground their investigations in the contradictory views of either Attachment Theory or Projection Theory and then find support within their research for whichever developmental perspective they sought to prove. Attachment Theory suggests that in reaction to an absent father a child may exhibit a compensation response, perceiving God to be a perfect father figure and an attachment substitute. Conversely, Projection Theory posits that a negative perception of father will result in the child demonstrating a correspondence response and transmitting these negative feelings onto their view of God. This research investigates the impact of fatherlessness on the image of God as Father and seeks to demonstrate the existence of both compensation and correspondence responses within a fatherless population. Quantitative surveys were collected from 505 respondents in seven separate church congregations of various denominations in the greater Waikato region. Additional qualitative information was collected from an open ended question on the survey form and by interviewing three survey participants as representatives of key population groups. By analysing the participants’ perceptions of their father and their comparable perceptions of God, I was able to identify similarities and differences in their answers and distinguish correspondence and compensation responses. Although I found strong support for Attachment Theory in the fatherless population, with 49.4% of those who were fatherless demonstrating a compensation response, the most significant influencing factor on the perception of God was a negative perception of father. Respondents with a negative perception of father, whether fatherless or not, had a higher rate of compensation responses (61.1%) and viewed God as more distant and less nurturing, involved, or accepting than did participants with a positive view of father. Despite the strong evidence of attachment substitution amongst those with a negative perception of father, lower overall scores for attributes of God and larger standard deviations in those scores suggested that some who were affected by an absent or dysfunctional father exhibited a correspondence response. This was further reinforced by the interviews and the comments written on the survey forms, which suggest that although some of those affected by fatherlessness may naturally demonstrate a compensation or correspondence response, others’ responses may change over time. It appears that some may begin by transferring a negative perception of father onto their image of God, but as their faith develops, evolves, and matures, they may come to view God as the perfect Father they had lacked. The thesis concludes with a discussion of some of the implications of this research for congregational ministry.
Article
After some preliminary notes on the significance, use and origin of the Apostles' Creed, this paper argues that there are two significant elements lacking in the Creed: (1) The Creed moves directly from God the creator to the incarnation of his Son Jesus Christ without giving any weight to God's dealings with the nations and Israel between Genesis 3 and Matthew 1, as if these were of no significance. This raises the important question as to the role and importance of God's revelation in history prior to the incarnation of Christ. (2) The Creed is also silent on Jesus' Jewish identity and his ministry in and primarily for Israel. Both aspects are essential in the New Testament presentation of the gospel. Moreover, in view of the devastating consequences of excluding Israel and Jesus the Jew for Jewish- Christian relations in much of church history, additions are overdue. Concrete suggestions are provided.