In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

154 SHOFAR Fall 1999 Vol. 18, No. I In focusing on the horrors of individual and collective violence in the biblical record, Schwartz thus misses the underlying economic and political dynamics of community formation and the positive functions ofnational identity. Sadly, that focus also obscures the wealth of biblical texts that point away from violence-texts that valorize peace and that anticipate eschatological if not temporal plenitude in both the natural and cultural realms. It is worth noting that many of the United Nations Declarations in support of economic and social equality, issued in the wake of the rebellion of various impoverished third-world countries against colonial domination, converge with biblical notions of peace and biblical concepts of love, power, and justice. Carol Meyers Department of Religion Duke University Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, by Walter Brueggemann. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997. 777 pp. $48.00. Walter Brueggemann's massive Theology ofthe Old Testament is an attempt to provide a new model for apprehending and articulating the Hebrew Bible's assertions concerning G-d that takes account ofthe new hermeneutical possibilities and realities posed by the contemporary postmodern interpretive situation. Brueggemann points to the emergence of "a major breakpoint in Western culture" (p. 60) in which the dominant modes of knowledge "that have too innocently yielded certitude" and the dominant modes of power "that have too readily granted control" are now giving way to a new postmodern situation which recognizes the pluralistic context of interpretation and the power of rhetoric to construe, generate, and evoke alternative realities. Whereas past theological interpretation ofthe Hebrew Bible employed objective, historical positivism to assert hegemony over the text of the Bible and those who read it, the postmodern situation calls for a Christian theological reading of the Bible that recognizes the diversity of its assertions concerning G-d and that the alternative understandings of its assertions are equally legitimate. In positing this new interpretive program, Brueggemann is particularly anxious to address the problem of Christianity's efforts at the supersession ofJudaism by various means, such as reducing the Hebrew Bible to easily controlled theological principles, subsuming the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament, historicizing it to such an extent that it is entirely dissociated from Rabbinic Judaism, etc. Instead, he attempts to offer a model in which various modes of Christian and Jewish readings ofthe Hebrew Bible can stand together in dialogue with the Bible and with each other. Book Reviews 155 A fundamental aspect of Brueggemann's program is that Old Testament theology must be concerned only with G-d (theos) and with speech (logos) about G-d. G-d cannot be comprehended in any preconceived categories, such as those ofChristian dogmatic theology, Hellenistic philosophy, historical event, etc. In order to come to grips with the Hebrew Bible's own assertions about G-d, the reader must reject questions ofhistoricity and ontology in order to ask "What is said?" rather than "What happened?" or "What is?" He employs the metaphor of testimony in a court oflaw as a vehicle to identify, analyze, and evaluate the Hebrew Bible's assertions about G-d. Brueggemann begins his "cross-examination" with discussion of the normative shape of Israel's utterance. He seeks to avoid the historical problems of von Rad's earliest credo statements and opts for examination ofstatements about G-d based upon the linguistic structure ofbiblical Hebrew, i.e., the full sentence is the unit oftestimony, YHWH is characteristically the subject of the active verb, and Israel or others are characteristically the objects of YHWH's actions. An extensive study of testimony about G-d in verbal sentences points to YHWH as the G-d who creates, makes promises, delivers, commands, and leads. A study ofadjectives applied to YHWH, with special attention to the "credo" in Exodus 34:6-7, points to YHWH's incomparability, relation to Israel, fidelity, and "profound contradiction that leaves open a harshness toward the beloved partner community" (p. 228). The nouns applied to YHWH emphasize the metaphorical quality of testimony about YHWH in relation to governance and sustenance, and assert YHWH's presence in all aspects oflsrael's life. Fundamentally, this normative testimony asserts YHWH's righteousness...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 154-157
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.