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The Faith Of The Outsider: Exclusion And Inclusion In The Biblical Story [Paperback]

By Frank Anthony Spina (Author)
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Item description for The Faith Of The Outsider: Exclusion And Inclusion In The Biblical Story by Frank Anthony Spina...

This book offers a probing, insightful look at the "outsider" motif running through the Bible. The biblical story about God's covenant with "insiders" - with Israel as the chosen people - is scandalous in today's cultural climate of inclusivity. But, as Frank Anthony Spina shows, God's exclusive election actually has an inclusive purpose. Looking carefully at the biblical narrative, Spina highlights in bold relief seven remarkable stories that treat nonelect people positively and, even more, as strategically important participants in God's plan of salvation. The stories of Esau, Tamar, Rahab, Naaman, Jonah, Ruth, and the woman at the well come alive in new ways as Spina discusses and examines them from an outsider-insider point of view.

Publishers Description
The Bible is quintessentially about binsidersb: Israel as the chosen people and Jesus as the savior of a divinely elected people. Yet the ideas of election and exclusivity are under attack today. What could be more scandalous in a time when inclusivity has become a dominant cultural value?

This important book explores the Biblebs abiding insider/outside motif, showing that Godbs exclusive election actually has an inclusive purpose. Frank Anthony Spinabs careful look at the biblical narrative puts in bold relief the remarkable number of stories that treat outsiders, the non-elect, not merely positively, but as strategically important participants in Godbs redemptive plan.

"The Faith of the Outsider" features stories of outsiders who, whether wittingly or unwittingly, actually promote Godbs agenda and who sometimes become insiders themselves under the most amazing circumstances. There are also stories in which outsiders are favorably contrasted to insiders who behave like or become outsiders themselves.

In addition to providing fresh insight into the ultimate purposes of God, each of the outsiders appearing in these stories -- Esau, Tamar, Rahab, Naaman, pagan sailors and Assyrian citizens, Ruth, and the woman at the well -- act in ways that require a reassessment of the Biblebs election theology. Spina argues that God chooses Israel not for its sake but for the blessing of the entire world. Likewise, Jesus is presented in universal terms, the vehicle for the reconciliation of all.

Successfully presented as talks to church and lay audiences, the stories gathered here are as instructive as they are enjoyable to read. Spinabs work illustrates just how much can be learned from thebiblical narrative itself as opposed to abstract theological reflection. More than anything else, these inspiring stories underscore the radical nature of the Biblebs gracious and sovereign God.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Faith Of The Outsider: Exclusion And Inclusion In The Biblical Story by Frank Anthony Spina has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly - 02/28/2005 page 64

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   206
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.68" Width: 6.48" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 29, 2005
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802828647  
ISBN13  9780802828644  

Availability  0 units.

More About Frank Anthony Spina

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Spina is professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington, and an associate priest at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Bellevue, Washington

Frank Anthony Spina currently resides in the state of Washington.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Faith Of The Outsider: Exclusion And Inclusion In The Biblical Story?

Re-reading Old Stories in New Light  Aug 12, 2007
Frank Spina belongs to that rare breed of writer who can spin a good yarn and fill it with scholarly gusto, who can keep you keep turning the pages and fulfilled academically.

Spina's first of hopefully many more to come, Faith of the Outsider not only brings you deep into the mindset and drama of the OT narratives but also challenges more than a few traditional readings. Spina adds a good dose of imagination into his exegesis which, far from bring it closer to iesegesis, actually brings us to a richer understanding of the texts.

One of the primary tasks of the book is to reveal the incredible role that many outsiders played in the story of God. Some of them not only "saved" the chosen family (e.g. Tamar) and served as a character-contrast to the insider (e.g. Rahab) but also demonstrated greater faith in the face of adversity and in response to divine blessing (e.g. Namaan).

This book is also a wonderful introduction to characters like:

Namaan the Aramean general who asked for two donkey-loads of Israeli soil as a reflection of his desire of genuine worship of Israel's God even as he has to continue his socio-political role as a pagan.

Rahab the Canaanite hooker who bargained her way into Joshua's protection and into the people of God.

Ruth the Moabite daughter-in-law who demonstrated the kind of love and faithfulness that Naomi forgot could be forthcoming from Israel's God.

Jonah the prophet to Nineveh who got a lesson in 'practical theology' from the sailors and the very people whom he wanted (God!) to abandon.

Esau the cheated brother who taught his conman brother, Jacob, how to forgive unconditionally.

The woman at the well who demonstrated more sensitivity towards Jesus' Messiahship and the water of life than the disciples themselves (who seemed more concerned about their stomachs!) - no, Spina's book is not exclusively OT-focused.

One of the best debut works around on a theme requiring much more discussion and thought.
the subtitle says it all  Jan 18, 2007
For my mother's funeral one of my five siblings chose not to attend the services. After his divorce my brother married an African-American woman and he fretted whether our little church in small-town North Carolina would welcome them. I don't know if he was wise and perceptive in this regard, or projected his insecurities onto others, but the threat of exclusion and marginalization as an "outsider" is a potent toxin for most all of us. No one wants to be an outsider.

In his book The Faith of the Outsider the Old Testament scholar Frank Spina makes a "close reading" of this insider-outsider motif in the Bible. He begins with the unpopular reminder that it is impossible to ignore the presence of what scholars call the "scandal of particularity" throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, Israel alone is God's elect people: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2). Israel is not only God's special insider community; as Spina notes, "it is the only insider community." All other nations need not apply. Similarly, in the New Testament the early Christians proclaimed that "no one comes to the Father except through Jesus" (John 14:6). If you excised this insider theme from the biblical narrative you would end up with a slender Bible indeed.

But that is only part of the story, and one that is significantly enriched by other elements of the plot. When God elected a single community, Israel, His intentions were categorically universal in scope, that in Abraham "all peoples on earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). Those same early Christians who proclaimed Jesus as the only way also imagined heaven populated with "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language" (Revelation 7:9). When we read the Bible carefully we notice how often it features prominent outsiders. This inclusion of outsider stories, Spina argues, is "neither incidental nor haphazard in the biblical witness." These outsider stories often include a significant plot reversal in which the ostensible insider is cast in a negative light and the outsider is portrayed as superior in virtue or faith. In his book Spina considers seven of these stories where the outsider is mainlined and the insider is marginalized--Esau, Tamar (incest), Rahab (a whore), Naaman, Jonah, Ruth (a resident alien who remarries a Hebrew), and the woman at the well in John 4 who had married five times.

This book will remind you of Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace. While Volf is a theologian, Spina is a Biblical scholar, and the goal of the so-called "close reading" that he undertakes is to read these stories as stand-alone objects with their own content, rather than as a subjective social constructions. We must attempt to understand them, in other words, in and of themselves, without recourse to outside sources, especially the trendy, chic, and politically-correct sources of the post-structuralists. I loved this book about such an important Biblical motif, and only wish that Spina had given us a final chapter that reviews and summarizes the themes in a comprehensive fashion, suggesting some contemporary implications and applications.

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