GOD IS A WARRIOR, by Tremper Longman and Daniel Reid

Published on October 13, 2016 by Joshua R Monroe

Zondervan, 1995 | 224 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

About the Authors

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies and the chair of the Religious Studies department at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is the Old Testament editor for the revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary and general editor for the Story of God Bible Commentary Old Testament and has authored many articles and books on the Psalms and other Old Testament books.

Daniel G. Reid (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is editorial director for IVP Academic, where he has worked since 1986.  


God Is a Warrior traces the development of the ‘divine warrior’ motif through the Old and New Testaments, beginning with Israel’s conflicts with her enemies and ending with Christ’s victorious return in Revelation. Against the broader background of Ancient Near Eastern warrior mythology, Part I discusses Yahweh’s warfare on behalf of ancient Israel, and prophecies of the coming Divine Deliverer. Part II looks at the New Testament’s Divine Warrior, Jesus Christ, and his war against his spiritual enemies in the Synoptic Gospels, in Paul’s letters, and in the final apocalyptic battle in the book of Revelation.”


Table of Contents

  1. The Divine Warrior as a Central Biblical Motif

Part 1: The Old Testament

  1. God Is a Warrior: The Wars of Faithful Israel
  2. God Is an Enemy: The Wars Against Unfaithful Israel
  3. God Will Come: The Day of the Lord
  4. God Wars Against the Forces of Chaos
  5. The Pattern of Divine Warfare in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

Part 2: The New Testament

  1. Jesus: New Exodus, New Conquest
  2. Jesus: The Warrior Slain, the Warrior Triumphant
  3. Paul: The Warrior’s Defeat of Principalities and Other Powers
  4. Paul: The Holy Warriors of Christ and the Day of the Lord
  5. Revelation: Visions of Divine Warfare


Chapter One

The Divine Warrior as a Central Biblical Motif

While the Bible may appear to be a disparate collection of ancient books, its unitary and organic character becomes clear upon greater reflection. There are many stories, and yet there is a single story. There are many strands to its narrative, but common themes stretch across the whole, such as the subject of this study, the image of the divine warrior.

Biblical theology aims to collect these observations or themes especially in terms of how they develop through time. Our study will map onto five stages: 1) God appears as a warrior who fights against Israel’s flesh-and-blood enemies;  2) the narrative stretches from there into Israel’s political independence and God’s fight against his own people in judgment; 3) Israel’s prophets look forward to the advent of a divine warrior; 4) we also see the theme continue in the New Testament as the Gospels and letters show the earthly ministry of the conqueror; and 5) the anticipation of the divine warrior coming in judgment on the spiritual and human enemies of God.

In terms of the previous research on our theme, John Calvin’s comments on Exodus 15:3 bear witness to God’s role as a warrior as an important biblical idea. The past century, though, has seen an explosion of research along this line. Wellhausen, Schwally, Fredriksson, and Otto Weber form the scholarly backdrop for Gerhard von Rad’s work Holy War in Ancient Israel, a pivotal book on our theme. His basic conclusion was that the holy war narrative served a later theological purpose for Israel, and so the divine warrior motif is a distorted ideology to support those later, post-Davidic ends. Since 1960, Harvard scholars have chipped away at von Rad’s thesis; W. F. Albright’s students particularly come into play, writing on themes such as the divine cosmological war and the assembly of a new history of Israel’s religion.

This book seeks to explore the image of the divine warrior, touching as well on holy war. We approach the Bible as an organic whole with an internally consistent message on the grounds of Scripture’s self-attestation. This is a study of the kind advanced by Geerhardus Vos and W. VanGemeren since we aim also connect the divine warrior of the Old Testament to the presentation of Jesus Christ as warrior in the New Testament.


Part 1: The Old Testament

Chapter Two

God Is a Warrior: The Wars of Faithful Israel

One of the earliest accounts of Israel’s national identity–Exodus 15, a text even usually skeptical scholars place very early–shows Yahweh as a warrior. God fights for the weaponless Israelites against the Egyptians at the Red Sea….

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God is a Warrior

Zondervan, 1995 | 224 pages

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