Forgiveness as the Mitigation of Punishment in Kings: Repentance, the Monarchy, and Divine Motive

Bibliographic Information: 

Thigpen, J. Michael, “Forgiveness as the Mitigation of Punishment in Kings: Repentance, the Monarchy, and Divine Motive.” Pages 67–83 in Remember Their Sins No More?: Forgiveness and the Hebrew Bible. Edited by David J. Shepherd and Richard S. Briggs. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2022.

From the Introduction: "This study explores the intersection of two longstanding lines of inquiry. The first is the meaning of the book of Kings and its relationship to the other parts of the Old Testament canon. The second is the question of the nature and significance of repentance. This study does not seek to solve the perennial questions related to Kings or to affirm or reject a particular past solution. Neither will this exploration examine repentance in all its fullness in the Old Testament. Rather, this inquiry will analyze the effect of repentance and its relationship to YHWH’s motives and intentions, suggesting that repentance in Kings is not salvific but rather mitigatory. That is to say, the merciful acts of forgiveness with which YHWH responds to acts of repentance are anticipatory, partial, and pedagogical. Such an understanding of repentance in Kings coheres with a prominent theme in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In these prophets, the explicit statements of YHWH’s motive indicate that rather than being motived by repentance to save, YHWH is motivated to grant repentance as part of the new covenant. Together, these themes provide another avenue of understanding the hope expressed by the book of Kings and the mechanism of hope brought forth in the prophets. They also help the canonical reader situate the function and significance of repentance in the book of Kings."