This essay attempts to bring together John Calvin's doctrine of accomodation (i.e., that God accommodates, or adjusts, himself to human capacity in order to reveal himself to us) and the theophany narratives of Exod 19-34. First, it argues that the doctrine of accommodation may shed light on some of the perennial difficulties of the theophany texts, specifically the general ambiguity of Exod 19-20 and the mysterious claim that the elders "saw the God of Israel" in Exod 24:10. Second, it argues that those texts may nuance the doctrine of accommodation so as to enable a response to some of its critics, particularly regarding the question of differentiating between God in se and God quoad nos. The doctrine of accommodation is not derived from Exod 19–34 in the way that some envision the movement from exegesis to theology. It is rather a tool brought to the text, albeit one whose appropriateness is demonstrated by its exegetical results. This essay contends that a dialogue between Calvin's doctrine of accommodation and the Sinai narratives will be profitable for our understanding of both, and that Calvin's doctrine is a valuable, though not infallible, tool for those wishing to speak well of God on the basis of Scripture.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.