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Product details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (5 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664259715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664259716
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Walter Brueggemann is the master interpreter of the Psalms, always in conversation with a wide range of scholarly issues and always with an eye to the context of contemporary readers. "From Whom No Secrets Are Hid" gives attention to difficult and often-unfamiliar texts in the Psalter as a means of revealing the self to the God who embraces pain and makes possible genuine newness. The articulation of the world envisioned in the Psalms and its challenge to our world in chapter 2 of the book are alone worth the price of the book! This volume will be lively and provocative for serious readers of the Psalms who seek growth in faith and for those who proclaim and minister in the powerful tradition of the Psalter."--W. H. Bellinger Jr., Chair, Department of Religion and W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible, Baylor University

About the Author

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of dozens of books and hundreds of articles. Brent A. Strawn is Professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He currently serves on the editorial advisory board of the esteemed Old Testament Library series, published by Westminster John Knox Press.

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Format: Paperback
This book is Brueggemann at his very best. Earlier this year I was disappointed with his long-awaited commentary on the Psalms, but this tome surpassed expectation. What makes this book so exciting is that it manages to be scholarly as well as approachable, engaging and lively. This makes for such a potent combination that the book defies easy classification in terms of its audience. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to think through what the Psalms are, and how they should be used holistically in worshipping communities. It is the latter concern that is at the forefront of Brueggemann's thinking and passion.

Arguably, Walter Brueggemann's most significant contribution to Psalms scholarship is his famous essay: 'The Psalms and the Life of Faith: A suggested Typology of Function'. This essay is helpfully reproduced in an appendix. Readers new to Brueggemann on the Psalms might profitably start here. Although they should note that the rest of the book is a less demanding read in terms of the necessary scholarly background.

Whilst every chapter of the book is engagingly written and profitable in understanding various facets of the Psalter, the first two chapters are especially insightful. Both of these opening chapters covers a lot of ground. Chapter 1 is an Introduction to the Book of Psalms. The chapter opens with a masterful definition of the Book of Psalms, which the chapter first unpacks and then explores. I quote the definition here, to wet the appetite:

`The book of Psalms, complex in its formation and pluralistic in its content, is Israel's highly stylised, normative script for dialogical covenantalism, designed for many "reperformances"`.

In this opening chapter, the emotional extremes of lament and praise are explored.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
The Psalms Open Us Up 24 Oct 2014
By Dr Conrade Yap - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I have learned that the Psalms do three things to us. They orientate us. They disorientate us. They then re-orientate us. All these are necessary in order to reveal our true selves to God, and for God to be revealed to us. For Brueggemann, the Psalms open us up. Those who really want to understand Psalms, cannot simply approach it via a liturgical ritual, a psychological insight, or an intellectual exercise. They need to be honest and to let Psalms tease the fearful selves within us out toward an awesome God. This idea is succinctly described in the title of the book, which was inspired from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer,

"ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen."

In one word, the Psalms is about self-disclosure. It helps build community as secrets are shared. It dispels aloneness as people come together in common unity. It prepares one another for change. There are meaningful connections of disclosure for inner well-being. It ushers us into the presence of the Divine. The Psalms bring together a complex range of emotions and spirituality. They are pluralistic, "highly stylized," and "designed for reperformance." There are prayers of thanksgiving and songs of praise. There are also psalms of lament and complaint. The beginning of each Psalm reveals the theological focus. Like Psalm 1 which points to the focus on the Torah or Psalm 2 on the significance of David and Israel's faith. Brueggemann also notes the five distinct books of the 150 psalms, which parallels the five books of the Torah. Yet, our problem is we have largely failed to grasp the depths of the Psalms because the Psalms are simply too "counter-world." Our world of "anxiety and scarcity" stands in stark contrast with the biblical promise of lavishness. Our culture of greed and self-dependence; denial and despair; all fail to wrestle well with faith, trust, and biblical hope. The way the Psalms reveal to us is via contrasting the world we know and the world God wants us to know.

Brueggemann has long been counter-cultural in his approach to reading Scripture. In the "Prophetic Imagination" which helped establish himself as a prominent scholar, he proposes an alternative community the people of God are called to live, especially in a world of oppression and resistance. His 2011 book entitled "Truth Telling as Subversive Obedience" also follows the same theme. His recent work on Sabbath is described as "resistance" to the world. Thus, with this book on Psalms, readers ought not to be surprised that Brueggemann draws out themes of resistance, subversiveness, and counter-cultural attitudes toward the world at large.

One example is the way he describes the use of praise as "imagination, not description"; "acts of devotion with political and polemic overtones"; that it is a form in which "doxology is the exuberant abandonment of self over to God"; and so on. He criticizes contemporary songs for their "preoccupation with self" and its overwhelmingly private styles. The Psalms countered the ancient idolatry around Israel. They reflect on creation (Ps 104). They help readers focus on the place of Jerusalem, the temple, and the people of God in God's covenant (Ps 46). The scope is very wide from personal to community; from war to peace; from violence to restraint; from Jerusalem to the heavens; and many more.

So What?
Readers will discover a new-found respect for the Psalms. The main thing is not the extensive coverage of all things life but the deep honesty the Psalms will evoke in us. The words like disclosure, openness, revelation, frankness, and other adjectives tell us that those who are genuine in seeking the truths of the Psalms within pre-meditated ideas will find that it is not the reader who reads the Psalms to discover truth. It is the Psalms that read the person in order to reveal the truth. In order words, the Bible reads us, and not the other way round. We are reminded that for those who are hiding, reading the Psalms can be a scary thing as there is simply no way one can hide from God. The Psalms is a place where we can not only meet God, but let God meet us in our raw form.

Even though this book is presented as "Introducing the Psalms," I feel that this book is more of us introducing ourselves before God. The Psalms enable spiritual surgery of our heart. They challenge our thinking in counter-cultural ways. They present to us a world in which we will eventually proclaim like Moses in Exodus 15:11

"Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you-- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?"

This book guides us in that direction of reverence for the Psalms.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book is provided to me courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A fine wine aged to exceptional quality 21 Sep 2014
By Glenn Pemberton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best way I know to describe "From Whom No Secrets are Hid: Introducing the Psalms" is to ask you to imagine Walter Brueggemann returning to rewrite his theological commentary, "The Message of the Psalms" (Augsburg, 1984) thirty years later. Do not misunderstand; I am not belittling the value of the new book, quite the opposite. Although many chapters return to the same themes and many of the same psalms, "From Whom No Secrets are Hid" gives us the further maturation of what was already a fine wine in 1984. The aging process of the nascent ideas present in 1984 has produced an exceptional wine and a (new) theological introduction to the Psalms.

A thesis could (should, and will) be written about the development of Bruggemann's interpretation of the Psalms between 1984 and 2014. I have space to touch on just a few ideas. The reader will find many similar "chapters" that treat the same psalms, e.g., the enthronement psalms (1984: 140-152; 2014: 49-55), the creator (1984: 28-38; 2014: 56-79), Jerusalem - psalms 74 and 79 (1984: 68-74; 2014: 80-85), description of lament (1984: 51-58; 2014: 86-93), violence and psalm 137 (1984: 74-77; 2014: 94-99), psalm 23 (1984: 154-156; 2014 [now with ps 22]: 100-105), psalms 51 and 32 (1984: 95-102; 2014: 106-112), psalm 88 (1984: 78-81; 2014 [with ps 10]: 113-119), wisdom psalms (1984: 42-44; 2014: 120-126), psalm 73 (1984: 115-121; 2014: 127-132), psalm 135 (1984: 159-160; 2014: [with other psalms of remembering] 133-139). Finally, the retrospect from 1984, "Spirituality and Theodicy" (pp. 168-176) is now somewhat a part of chapter 14 and the issue of theodicy that arises in psalm 73 (pp. 127-132). A reprint of Brueggemann's JSOT essay from 1980, "The Psalms and the Life of Faith (A Suggested Typology of Function)" aptly concludes the book.

Make no mistake about the above-mentioned parallels in the material treated by each book; in every instance the reader will find the evolution of ideas introduced in 1984 and a scholar unafraid to retrace earlier paths with fresh eyes. Where the two volumes most radically diverge are the ideas in chapters 2-4 in "From Whom No Secrets are Hid." Here thirty years of Brueggemann's continual probing of the intersections of societal power and biblical alternatives step forward to challenge the reader in aptly titled chapters: "The Counter-World of the Psalms," "Canaanite Tradition and Israel's Imagination," and "Doxological Abandonment." We are not merely fortunate to receive this new challenge with finely aged wine, we are blessed by the Lord.
Five Stars 19 Oct 2014
By gchrystie - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It gets no better than Walter Bruegerman.
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