We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry

Overview

The heart of the biblical understanding of idolatry, argues G. K. Beale, is that we take on the characteristics of what we worship. Employing Isaiah 6 as his interpretive lens, Beale demonstrates that this understanding of idolatry permeates the whole canon, from Genesis to Revelation. Beale concludes his study with an application of the biblical notion of idolatry to the challenges of contemporary life.
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Overview

The heart of the biblical understanding of idolatry, argues G. K. Beale, is that we take on the characteristics of what we worship. Employing Isaiah 6 as his interpretive lens, Beale demonstrates that this understanding of idolatry permeates the whole canon, from Genesis to Revelation. Beale concludes his study with an application of the biblical notion of idolatry to the challenges of contemporary life.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Frank Thielman
"This thoughtful examination of a surprisingly significant biblical theme will richly reward all who read it. . . . It offers that rare combination of careful, insightful exegesis and perceptive application from which not only biblical scholars but all Christians can benefit."
T. Desmond Alexander
"This profoundly insightful study of idolatry brings into the spotlight a topic of exceptional significance. Illuminating a wide range of biblical passages, Professor Beale skillfully elucidates the life-defining and transforming nature of worship, both true and false. Everyone who reads this book will be deeply challenged to reflect afresh upon the way in which what we revere shapes not only our present lives but also our future destinies."
Douglas Stuart
"Nothing else comes even close to this authoritative analysis of the destroying power of idolatry and its comparison to the renewing power of true worship of the one real God. Beale's relentlessly thorough coverage of the biblical material, using a purposely maximalist approach, gives the reader a close look at every possible reference to relevant passages, no matter how obscure or tangential, so that no stone is left unturned in demonstrating how idolatry--ancient or modern--ruins people's lives. Any biblical preacher or teacher would benefit from this book."
Thomas R. Schreiner
"This stimulating and in-depth study on idolatry is vintage Greg Beale. Beale argues that we become like the idols we worship, and he makes his case through a careful intertextual study of the Scriptures. Insights abound as Beale unfolds the biblical text. We are reminded afresh that idolatry is the root sin, and that it is so heinous because it robs God of the glory and praise and honor that he alone deserves."
David F. Wells
"This is an original, brilliant and most satisfying treatment of a theme central to biblical understanding, but often misunderstood or ignored in the modern church. This book requires careful study but it repays far more than it requires."
Bruce Waltke
"We Become What We Worship is biblical theology at its best, weaving together Old and New Testament texts into a unified message. Beale's work is original yet traditional, profound yet simple, exegetical yet 'hyperexegetical,' sometimes provocative yet always profitable, for the scholar yet for every serious Christian. His message that we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or for restoration, is convincing and convicting."
Linden D. McLaughlin
"This stimulating and challenging book will make readers think."
Gary A. Parrett
"Beale's work--a masterful exercise in biblical theology--is compelling. The book is weighty, but accessible, and Beale's tone is irenic throughout."
Chris Keith
"An excellent example of how to build a theological conviction in light of detailed work in biblical texts in their original languages."
L. S. Tiemeyer
". . .for the interested Christian lay-person, it provides a solid discussion of one aspect of idolatry in the Christian Bible."
Matthieu Richelle
"Preachers, students, and teachers will find in this exciting book not only original ideas, but also food for thought about the relevance of intertextuality for biblical theology."
Marcus Nodder
"As a heavy-weight contribution to this field of research the book is to be commended as a thoughtful, important and impressive piece of work."
The Baptist Bulletin
"If you're studying the subject of worshipping anything that is a substitute for God, you'll surely want to obtain this volume."
Worship Leader
"Think of this book as a thorough resource to use for your sermons, a textbook on idolatry, and a voice of wisdom that is not afraid to call into question the worship of the Church. Worship leaders, pastors, and small group leaders alike will have more than enough in this resource to use for weeks on end; and with a topic talked about this much in Scripture, this is exactly what we need."
Green Baggins (greenbaggins.wordpress.com)
"Greg Beale has turned out yet another masterpiece of biblical theology and intertextual exegesis. Beale is a master at letting Scripture interpret Scripture."
On Journeying with those in Exile (poserorprohet.wordpress.com)
"Beale argues that humans are 'imagining' beings, necessarily reflecting one image or another, and do it becomes crucial to determine who or what we are reflecting and to whom or what we are becoming conformed. Having established this thesis, Beale spends most of the book supporting it by demonstrating how the Bible presents this argument. I found a lot of Beale's initial Old Testament exgesis to be fascinating."
Trevin Wax
"I highly recommend that pastors consult this book whenever they are preparing to preach on one of the texts that Beale exposits. We Become What We Worship is a terrific resource that shines light on many passages of Scripture."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844743148
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Pages: 341

Meet the Author

G. K. Beale (PhD, University of Cambridge) holds the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament and is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

His books include The Book of Revelation (New International Greek Testament Commentary), 1-2 Thessalonians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series), The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New, John's Use of the Old Testament in Revelation, The Temple and the Church's Mission and We Become What We Worship.

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Table of Contents


1 Introduction 15
2 A Foundational Example of Becoming Like What We Worship: Isaiah 6 36
3 Becoming Like What We Worship: Evidence Elsewhere in the Old Testament 71
4 The Origin of Idolatry in the Old Testament 127
5 Becoming Like What We Worship: Judaism 141
6 Becoming Like What We Worship: The Gospels 161
7 Idolatry in Acts 184
8 Becoming Like What We Worship: Paul's Epistles 202
9 Becoming Like What We Worship: The Book of Revelation 241
10 The Reversal from Reflecting the Image of Idols to Reflecting God's Image 268
11 Conclusion: So What Difference Does It Make? 284 Bibliography 312 Author Index 328 Index of Ancient Sources 331 Scripture Index 333
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