Judgement and Promise - the book of Isaiah is pregnant with both and Walter Brueggemann is the textual midwife. Brueggemann (Professor of Old Testament Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta) is first and foremost a theologian of the text, and his theology emanates from scripture. After a lifetime of devotion as a scholar of Biblical text, Brueggemann sees God living and flowing through, in and under the scripture.
Throughout the Old Testament, and clearly in Isaiah, Brueggemann's God is an entangled God. A God who purposely embroils Himself in the affairs of a despairing and divergent world. Isaiah is God's ordained messenger, sent to challenge, critique and criticize the false security and faith in Israel's society. Isaiah begs them to realize their doomed destiny. He is calling out relentlessly to Judah, plaintively petitioning them to beware of the impending apocalypse. Yet, the people, steeped in religion, and mesmerized by the glitter of their materialistic well being is no longer capable of scrutinizing the incongruities, ambiguities and contradictions that shackles them and leads them towards captivity.
In Bruggemann's commentary Isaiah saw a time of darkness and despair, where doom was inevitable and the eyes of the people of Israel, especially the religious and political leaders of Judah, were blind. This was a time when the people called by God, redeemed by God, actively rejected God. Death and destruction were to follow. Jerusalem would fall. The temple would be leveled in 587 B.C.E. Yet for all of this Isaiah did not leave the people without hope (Isaiah 40-66); for he saw a time when promise would follow judgement. He prophecies of a time for the people of God when peace, spiritual prosperity and a new beginning would come.
Walter Brueggemann excels in his ability to illuminate the text and truth for his readers. As he exegetes the scripture, laying bear its truth and its relevancy to us today, he calls for the reader to draw their own conclusions about the application of the text to today's world. His commentary on Isaiah is scholarly, but not densely academic. It breaths new life into ancient texts. Isaiah 1-39 by Walter Brueggeman is a recommended addition to any biblical library, and a must for any student of Isaiah.