The books of Kings view Israel’s history through the theological lens of “action.” Actions have consequences that are determined by the people’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness to their God and the covenant, and the editors’ purpose is to demonstrate that the monarchy stands or falls on its faithfulness to its God.
The books of Kings, though in real ways foreign to the twenty-first century, contain content that resonates with our contemporary experience. They raise an array of questions: In the relationships between and among individuals and between and among nations, what constitutes loyalty? What behaviors exact justice? What are the demands of being in a covenant relationship with God? What does it mean to be faithful to that relationship? What risks are we willing to take? How do we pray? Where do we look for the power of God? The insights gleaned from engaging these questions can shed a unique light on our contemporary lives.
Alice L. Laffey is associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. Trained in the modern historical-critical study of the Deuteronomistic History, she has expanded her study of the Old Testament to include postmodern feminist and ecological approaches.