As Brueggemann briefly outlines at the start, there is a gulf between the worlds of the lecture hall and the ordinary pew - and this is perhaps nowhere clearer than with the Psalms. This is a short (only 75 pages) introduction which seeks to bridge that gulf, in a scholarly but thoroughly constructive way. He is not overly in thrall to academia, nor patronising to the devoted - which is a refreshing combination.
The primary reason for reading this book is to gain his insightful articulation of the three primary modes of psalm (which he has developed in other places):
-psalms of orientation
-psalms of disorientation
-psalms of new (or re-)orientation
Too often, believers are too scared (or too much in denial of their own / the world's problems) to invest in the disorientation psalms because of their disturbing and unsettling challenges to faith. That explains why so little of modern hymnody and worship music echoes the refrains of these psalms. Yet there is such providence and wisdom in their inclusion in (and even dominance of) the psalter. In fact, one of the most striking insights of the book is Brueggemann's insistence that to restrict oneself to the psalms of orientation alone is actually dangerous - for it solidifies the status quo, overlooking the cries of the oppressed and marginalised.
This book helpfully shows why they are there and, more importantly, how they can grow people's faith. Particularly interesting in this book is his articulation of what dynamics bring about the change from one orientation to another. And while this is not the only element at work in the psalms, it is very useful to have these dynamics spelled out - our interpretation and praying of the psalms can only be deepened as a result.
on 24 December 2013
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to study the psalms in depth. It provides a comprehensive overview of psalms which encompasses the entire range of human experience in relation to God, including not only one's more 'acceptable' responses of praise and thanksgiving, but also the anger, protest and resentment that are part of the human experience and which we are more reluctant to address to the Almighty.
on 8 August 2013
Sets out, in only seventy pages, his basic thesis of the three phases of life captured in the Psalms, namely, Psalms of Orientation, Psalms of Disorientation and Psalms of Reorientation. Great for understanding a good number of Psalms and life itself.