Old Testament Theology: Approaches to Structure, Theme and Text Paperback – 1 Jan 1959
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About the Author
Walter Brueggemann is Professor Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and was a past president of the Society of Biblical Literature. His most recent books include Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and the Church and Journey to the Common Good.
Patrick D. Miller is Charles T. Haley Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of numerous books, including "The Religion of Ancient Israel". He is coeditor of the Interpretation commentary series and the Westminster Bible Companion series. In 1998, he served as President of the Society of Biblical Literature. He was also editor of "Theology Today" for twenty years.
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Using a keen sense of form criticism von Rad showed how the Old Testament grew out of the experiences of ancient Israel. Historical event was followed by layering of theological interpretation. These were arranged by ancient Israel in a cultic confession.
Von Rad noted that the destruction of the Hexateuchal framework made the discovery of the early history difficult. But the matter was very different if one took into consideration that the sequence of events conformed to a "canonical schema of a cultic nature."
The pre-Mosaic ancestors of ancient Israel were not always worshippers of Yahweh. Genesis mentions cults of the ancestors such as the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, and the Strong one of Jacob. Confessional formulae of which Deuteronomy 25.6 is most important coalesced these diverse traditions into the historiography of the Old Testament.
This is the starting point of von Rad's _Old Testament Theology_.
This review refers to the 1962 edition of Gerhard von Rad's _Old Testament Theology: the Theology of israel's Historical Traditions_.
From Chap 4: Bodied Faith and Body Politic: "In older, seemingly better days the Bible spoke with a single voice concerning faith and morals... For over a century the dominance of historical-critical work has relativized the absolute voice of the Bible. His footnote, also uttered in Class: "The critique of historical-critism by religious conservatives, in my judgment is correct." Next is a surprise: "Historical criticism was not especially interested in theological interpretation!" (This is news to me.)
Before getting to Chap 4, I was struck by Bruegge's emphasis on, "The issue that Israel and Israel's God (and those who continue this line of reflection) must always face concerns pain..." He pursues this theme in the next two essays: The Embrace of Pain; The Rhetoric of Hurt & Hope: "What is it about the Old Testament that is so odd and disruptive and restless that refuses to behave itself...?" Soon after those utterances he explains this question, "that rhetorical world is odd and crucial because it mediates ethical reflection through 'disclosures of hurt and articulations of hope.' "
My favorite essays, also longest are 7, Old Testament Theology as a Particular Conversation; No 8, The Crisis and Promise of Presence in Israel. A favorite picture of his growing theology is an "on-going conversation" with the OT or other scholars... Eichrodt and von Rad. Plus, "the aniconic character of Israel's God implies more than an absence of images." He refers to the value of metaphors from such scholars as Sallie McFague. His favorite nouns besides conversation are speech, utterance, words of rhetorical questions. His opening prayers for each Class are filled with verbs like brood, command, confess, plead, praise, thank, yearn...also, often coupled in faith, generosity, love, pleasure, purity, silence, trust...evidence of his grouping in fives and sevens.
Since most of these essays have come from his years at Columbia, those who have studied there have watched his authentic, steady, consistent growth and mellowing into an ever-ready approachable Gentle-man! I would not have gotten so much out of this year's Old Testament Theology without his incredible, clearly-stated, expositions in related, on-going conversations... favoring an older student!
Retired Chaplain Fred W Hood
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