Saturday, January 22, 2011

In the name of God

I have been reading through 1 Kings which describes Solomon's reign and the construction of the Temple. It is striking to me how much it mentions and focuses on "the name of the LORD [YHWH]".  The temple was built "for the name", and "the name" dwelt there,..

It is interesting to read Karl Barth's discussion of the central role of the name of God, not just in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well:
This is the concept of the name of God. Knowledge, love, fear, trust, hope, praise, preaching, invocation are all related continually to this ... and yet even so they are unmistakably connected to Yahweh Himself. The righteous man thinks, speaks and acts in this name when he stands before Yahweh, under His protection and blessing. To this name of Yahweh, not to the One who dwells in Sinai or according to the later view in heaven, a house or temple is built in Jerusalem. Conversely this name ... for whose sake Yahweh forgives and is gracious and guides and does not forsake Israel; His name dwells indeed, as Yahweh chose, in Jerusalem. ...  
In His name is concentrated everything He is in His relation to His people, to the righteous, and from His name proceeds in some way everything that the people or the righteous can expect from Him as they stand in this relation. What does all this mean? Not for the old Testament alone but for ancient thought generally, and perhaps for what is called primitive thought (though it is not really primitive), a man's name is not something that comes to him from without, something accidental and non-essential,...  
the picture which the New Testament itself sets before us is that of the self-disclosure of this Father in which He is not the Father but the Son, the historical figure of this Man on His way from Bethlehem to Golgotha, the "name" of Jesus. Again, the concreteness and actuality of the self-unveiling of God for man, and the enigma of the self-distinction in God Himself which makes this self-unveiling possible, has not just increased quantitatively here in comparison with the Old Testament....
In thinking that it has to defend against Jesus as against a blasphemer the name of God dwelling in the house of stone in Jerusalem, it [Israel] denies this very name, and thus separates itself from it and from its own Holy Scripture, which is one long witness to this name as God's real presence and action in the human sphere. This presence and action of God Israel declines. Why is it that the Lord's Prayer in the New Testament begins in the style of the Old Testament: "Hallowed by thy name!"? How else could it begin? one might almost reply. This is the whole point with Jesus. His concern is not with something new but with that which is first and primal, with the God who wills to be God and to be known as God a second time in a different way, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who wills to be revealed in His name and hallowed in His name. 
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 1.1, pages 316-9.

The painting is Solomon before the ark of the covenant, by Blaise Nicholas Le Sueur

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