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Taming the Untamable: Christian Attempts to Make Israel’s Election Universal

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In this essay, the author suggests that contemporary ways of thinking about exclusion and particularism have profoundly affected contemporary interpretations of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. This, the author suggests, becomes particularly evident when looking at the issue of Israel’s election. Through an examination of the theological interpretations of two evangelical Christian commentators on Deuteronomy, Christopher Wright and Gordon McConville, the author argues that each interpreter, to varying degrees, inappropriately reads a universal agenda into Deuteronomy in the service of Christian theology. The author maintains that a better approach is to accept the exclusive, particularistic nature of Deuteronomy (and of the Old Testament more generally) and to acknowledge that although a universal trajectory may be observed in the Bible overall, it should not be achieved through skewed readings of Deuteronomy, or at the cost of Israel’s irrevocable—and thus enduring—election.

Affiliations: 1: Trinity Western University Langley, BC Canada, Email:


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