I recently read Jonathan W. Tooker's 2001 book The Time Travel Interpretation of the Bible, which is available as a free pdf at the link. I do not in the end find it at all convincing, but it certainly was a stimulating thought experiment.
God as the time traveler with the last word
Tooker begins with the assumption that at some time in the future time-travel technology will be developed, at which point a variety of people with a variety of motives will go back into the past to attempt to rewrite history, with changes undoing and overwriting other changes again and again indefinitely. Therefore,
The real course of immutable history which we all share, then, must be the limit of an infinite number of changes. The history that we all share is the final word once all the time travel work has been done. Since there will always have been a finite number of human generations following the construction of the first time machine, and since the men of each generation will work only a finite number of shifts [as time travelers] during their lives, humans will never be able to write the last of an infinite number of changes. If the last word cannot be had by any mortal, then it must be had by some supernatural entity. . . . Here, we seat God on the throne of his eternal glory at timelike infinity [in Minkowski space], the end of time, a place that no mortal can ever reach.
It is not spelled out why no time-traveling mortal can ever reach timelike infinity, especially since time travel is generally conceptualized as "teleporting" from one time to another without any need to pass through the interval (finite or infinite) between them. Anyway, it is assumed that no one can. But them, confusingly, Tooker goes on to posit that the God of Abraham is actually a flesh-and-blood man from the future, possibly even the inventor of the first time machine. How then did he reach timelike infinity, which ex hypothesi no man can do? Tooker attempts to deal with this by invoking his version of the Trinity:
In the preceding sections, we have made the point to put God in the seat at timelike infinity but now we will seat the Holy Spirit there to assign God as a human man. Jesus is God as a younger man before he completes the mission of the Messiah. God is Jesus as an older man after the harvest has come and he has affected the final defeat of Satan . . . .
Note that this does not mean that the man born as Jesus grew up to be God. Rather, God is assumed to be born in the post-Einsteinian future (since he must have access to a time machine), and Jesus is one of this future man's relatively early ("as a younger man") ventures back into the past. Jesus as such is assumed not to have been born at all (as hinted at in some of the Gospels; like me, Tooker gives priority to the Fourth Gospel, but does so because it says nothing about the birth of Jesus).
Among all the changes enacted by all the [time-traveling] agents, after all the generations of mankind have come and gone, whose intention for what history ought to have been will dominate at infinity? We propose that the intentions of the man God are those which survive until the end. For this reason, the Holy Spirit is called by God's name. When all was said and done, it was his intention which survived to infinity. As the winner of the time travel war, God is the greatest and winningest warrior of all time. This is the nature of the trinity: God as a younger man fighting for victory, God himself having attained absolute dominion, and God's intention: three parts of a whole.
As best I can make out, this means that God is not enthroned at timelike infinity, and that the "Holy Spirit" that is said to be enthroned there is only a figure of speech -- not an explanation of why God has the last word in the editing of the past, but a metaphorical way of expressing the fact that he does have the last word.
Why, then, does God have the last word? This is a rather important question since, in Tooker's model, having the last word is what makes God God. The answer seems to be simply that God is good, that evil inherently leads to destruction, and that therefore only God's intention leads to eternal life.
If there comes a day when the last human dies, then life will not have been eternal. . . . Beyond that day, there would never again be someone using a time machine. Some human would have had the last word about what history was. There would be no future generations through which God's intention might propagate all the way to infinity. To the contrary, if extinction never comes, then the limit at infinity which we have associated with the Spirit of God is generated . . . . The Sovereign Lord is separated from false gods [i.e., rival human time travelers] because the timeline passing through God's ultimate victory in his Messianic mission is the only timeline that does not lead to extinction. . . . The road that leads to death is broad but the road that leads to life is narrow. All futures apart from God are doomed.
No real metaphysical reason is given for this. God is just some guy, and his way just happens to be the only way to "eternal life" -- meaning, apparently, the temporally infinite continuation of the human species and time-travel technology, not personal immortality. (Personal immortality apparently consists in being taken out of the time stream altogether, into the "elsewhere" regions of Minkowski space.) I don't know why we would assume there would be exactly one way to attain this; many ways or no way seems more likely. Actually, I'm not clear on how "a day when the last human dies" could even be an issue in a world with time travel, since pre-extinction human could travel into the post-extinction future and restart the species. Nor do I know why we need to assume that our species does in fact survive indefinitely, approaching a limit at timelike infinity, rather than some human having the last word. None of this is clear to me, and I don't think the problem is entirely my own.
Anyway, this is the model you have to entertain in order to proceed with the rest of Tooker's thesis.
The water/earth/heaven metaphor, and miracles
Tooker proposes that in the Bible, "water" is often used as a metaphor for the past; "earth," for the present; and "heaven," for the future -- with God being the "Most High" because he (or, rather his intentions, reified as the Holy Spirit) is located in the "highest heaven," which is timelike infinity. When Satan is cast down from heaven to earth, for instance, this is taken to mean that his time-travel privileges are revoked and he is confined to his own "present." (Satan, too, is a time-traveling mortal man, as we shall see below.)
Tooker is generally reluctant to countenance any sort of "magic" or miracles beyond those that involve manipulating time through a technology to be developed in the future. Events such as the Flood of Noah and the parting of the Red Sea are reconceptualized on the assumption that "water" and "dry land" are references to the time stream. Since it is obviously impossible for the whole earth to be submerged under physical water, the Flood is understood to be God undoing his creation by going back in time and altering the past that led to it, and the ark is some sort of temporal "bubble" (whatever that would be) which is unaffected by this. It is within this framework that Tooker understands God's promise after the Flood:
I will not again . . . smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Gen. 8:21-22).
As Tooker points out, a flood of water has nothing to do with the progression of summer and winter, day and night -- but meddling with the fabric of spacetime does. God is promising never again to play fast and loose with the timeline to the extent that he did in this metaphorical "flood."
Smaller scale temporal editing is still permitted, though, and the passage through the Red Sea on "dry ground" (another temporal bubble) is understood in this way. God's "jamming" the Egyptians' chariot wheels (as many translations give Ex. 14:25) is also understood to be a temporal effect.
Although no water metaphor is used, the extension of Hezekiah's life (Isa. 38) is understood as a small-scale manipulation of time. Time is rewound a bit, which is why the shadow on the sundial goes back 10 degrees, so that Hezekiah can be placed on a timeline in which he lives 15 years longer than he would otherwise have done. Apparently a minor adjustment like this is not considered to be a violation of the promise to Noah since it is not enough to disrupt the cycle of day and night or the seasons.
Israel as Satan
I have noted before some of the similarities between the biblical figure Jacob, a.k.a. Israel, and the serpent of Eden. Jacob means "he seizes the heel," a name he was given because "he took his brother by the heel in the womb" (Hos. 12:3). To the serpent, God says, "Thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). The serpent deceives Adam, and Jacob deceives Edom (basically the same name in Hebrew). Jacob is even described as being physically serpent-like -- a smooth-skinned man in contrast to his hairy brother -- and the account of his life in Genesis is just one deception after another. Even the name God gives him, Israel, means "he contends with God."
Why, then is Israel God's chosen? Tooker makes the rather shocking proposal that Israel is literally Satan. Satan, like God, is a time-traveling human being, and the specific human being he is, is Jacob the son of Isaac. But Israel and his descendants are nevertheless "chosen" for special protection because they are the ancestors of the man God himself, and he cannot therefore destroy them without destroying both himself and the one true timeline that leads humanity all the way to timelike infinity. Although a large part of the Bible consists of diatribes against the wicked Israelites, God is forced to continue protecting and helping them. This is the meaning of the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13): the tares (Israelites) cannot be destroyed yet without destroying the wheat (future Messiah, who becomes "God") with them. Once the Messiah has been born, though, the long-awaited time for burning up the tares will have arrived. Yes, I realize that this is, like, super anti-Semitic.
According to Tooker, Israel is explicitly identified as Satan in the Bible, but you'll only pick up on it if you compare two different verses. We are told that "Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel" (2 Chron 21:1). But we are also told, "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah" (2 Sam. 24:1). Tooker maintains that the "he" in 2 Samuel cannot refer to the Lord, since 2 Chronicles says Satan moved David to number Israel, and that therefore the only possible antecedent is "Israel." Tooker's reading is, "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel [the person, Jacob], and he [Israel/Jacob] moved David against them [Israel, the nation]." Compare that with Chronicles, and you find that Israel must Satan, because that's who moved David to number the people. I think it's a ridiculous reading, which relies on the same noun being the antecedent of both "he" and "them," but that's all he's got.
Surprisingly, despite saying he prioritizes the Gospel of John, and despite his belief that "children of Israel" is literally synonymous with "children of Satan," Tooker does not mention the episode in John 8 where Jesus calls the Jews children of the devil while at the same time conceding that they are also children of Abraham. Those who do not interpret the whole thing metaphorically tend to arrive at some version of the Fake Jew Thesis -- that the "Jews" of Jesus' time were not really Israelites at all but Edomite conversos or some such. Tooker's interpretation would be that they were children of the devil precisely because they were Israelites -- and that Jesus himself was just as much a (genealogical if not spiritual) child of the devil as they were. Both Jesus and the Pharisees were descendants both of the righteous Abraham and of Satan himself, though they varied as to which of these ancestors they took after.
All Jews are children of Satan. Jesus was a Jew. Jesus is God. It's not often that you find one person asserting all three of those things! It's hard to reconcile with the wheat and tares model -- where once the Living God has been born, all the "tares" (Israelites) will be destroyed -- all the other tares, I should say -- because it seems that in Tooker's understanding God himself is not really wheat (the product of a different seed) but rather one of the tares, one that happened to turn out good, atavistically taking after Abraham more than Jacob. If the fruit of the family tree of Israel is God himself, on what grounds can we call it a bad tree that must at some later date be hewn down and cast into the fire? "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matt. 12:33).
Coming back to the man Jacob himself, how did someone born in the Bronze Age, long before time travel technology, end up becoming the time-traveling devil? Tooker suggests that the incident of Jacob's Ladder refers to a chance encounter with time travelers and their technology (angels are generally seen as time-traveling agents from the future), and that Jacob thus got access to this technology and decided to use it to rewrite history so that he, not God, would be the last man standing at timelike infinity (not understanding that this was impossible because, well, reasons). Satan is supposed to have made many attempts to kill God or God's ancestors (the "false gods," Satan-affiliated time travelers, demanded child sacrifice because they wanted to eliminate certain bloodlines), and the crucifixion of Jesus is one such attempt that succeeded -- at least until it was undone by more time-travel shenanigans, resulting in the Resurrection.
The command to sacrifice Isaac is presented as a similar attempt by God himself, to erase the devil from history by having his father killed. When God realizes (remember he is just a man from the future, not omniscient) that he would be grandfather-paradoxing himself, he sends another agent back to the past to stop Abraham from going through with it.
Jacob's wresting match with God is interpreted as another aborted attempt to stop Jacob from becoming Satan. The "wrestling" is assumed not to have been literal grappling but a "time fight," a struggle for mastery over the timeline. In the end, God perceives that despite everything, allowing Jacob to proceed is preferable to the alternative, and he lets him win.
Ultimately, though, God and his agent Michael win the "war in heaven" (that is, in the future), and Satan is cast down to "earth" (that is, to his own time in the Bronze Age, no more to wander through the spacetime manifold for the ruin of souls).
Oh, and you need to keep the Law of Moses
We have seen that in Tooker's model, God is just some dude from the future and is not Good in any transcendent sense. (He rejects "God is love" as a "dehumanizing proverb," preferring Moses' definition: "The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.") God's way is the right way for essentially Darwinian reasons -- because, as it happens, it is the only way that takes the inclusive fitness of the human species all the way to timelike infinity. And Satan is not an imp on your shoulder egging you on to succumb to vice; he's a dude from the past trying to kill the dude from the future. Whether you yourself are sinful or virtuous, whether you inwardly align yourself with God or the devil, doesn't ultimately seem to make much difference in this war, the outcome of which has already been determined by the ineluctable fate that decrees that straight is the way that leadeth to life.
With that as the metaphysical background, it is odd to find that Tooker's book ends with a little diatribe against "Paulism," and particularly against Paul's teaching that the Law of Moses has been superseded. Pork remains absolutely forbidden, Tooker insists, and circumcision absolutely required -- for what exactly? Because, as the butterfly effect would have it, some critical mass of humans must do those things or else the species is doomed to extinction? But we know that future history has already been written -- and rewritten for the final time -- and that the species does not go extinct. As for personal immortality and the afterlife, Tooker barely mentions it, contenting himself with a passing reference to the possibility of "going to heaven" by being shunted off the timeline into the Minkowskian "elsewhere," and leaving us to guess whether or not going there has anything to do with not eating pork.
The whole "Paul is bad because we have to keep the Law of Moses" thing almost seems like a separate theological hobby-horse, left over from before the Time Travel Interpretation had been formulated, and included here as a sort of palimpsestic holdover.
Tooker's thesis is undeniably fun to entertain. It's fascinating to revisit all the familiar Bible stories from this entirely different perspective and see how everything might be reinterpreted in its light. In the end, though, it fails in some very important ways. Here, aside from the specific problems detailed above, are its main flaws.
First, though perhaps not foremost, it bases everything on "time travel" without coming up with any rigorous theory of the same. The idea of time travel cannot even be coherently formulated as a hypothesis in the four-dimensional world of Einstein and Minkowski, and naive attempts to do so -- the H. G. Wells style thinking that if time is just another dimension, we should in theory be able to travel in it -- are ill-conceived. To travel from Point A to Point B means to be at Point A at one point in time and at Point B at some later point in time. For example, if I was in Chicago Heights at 2:00 and Buffalo Grove at 3:00, I traveled from Chicago Heights to Buffalo Grove. "Time travel" would mean that Points A and B are not places but times, though -- leading either to tautology ("I was at 2:00 at 2:00 and at 3:00 at 3:00") or to contradiction ("I was at 2:00 at 2:00 and at 12:00 at 3:00"). I don't see any way to think at all clearly about the possibilities of "time travel" except from an explicitly Dunnean standpoint, where dimensions of meta-time are recognized. Wells unconsciously smuggles in Dunnean assumptions.
More importantly, the whole model is too "cosmic," and not personal enough, to really serve as a religion. God and Satan had a time war, and God won -- which is good, because it means the human race will survive to timelike infinity. This has all in some ill-defined sense "already" been done, and that's why all those things in the Bible happened. Fine. Now what? How does this relate to me as an individual and how I should live and what gives my life meaning? If God's ultimate victory is what really matters, then nothing I do really matters, since nothing I can do can affect that. (If it did, God would just go back in time and undo what I had done.) As for my own personal destiny, Tooker barely touches on it, except to mention in passing that it would be technically possible to "go to heaven" in the "elsewhere" regions of Minkowski space. Will God come back and manipulate spacetime to do that for me if he wins in the end? Is that why it matters? "I don't know, just remember to get circumcised and lay off the pork."
Overall, Tooker's "theology" reads like some history lesson (about things in some sense "already done") about how the good guys defeated the bad guys and made the world safe for democracy or something. Yes, very inspiring, three cheers for the flag and all that -- but if that's your answer to the Bible, are you really sure you've understood the question?