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Brueggemann's Old Testament Theology: A Review Article

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

There is a sameness about Old Testament theologies that makes the reading of most of them more a chore than a treat. The subject-matter will be about the same in every book-will it not?_and variety, if any, will be found in the way it is organized. Most of the discussions of Old Testament theology, in fact, have to do with how to organize it. Thus, it was a treat when Gerhard von Rad's work appeared, for it was a truly original approach, filled with new insights and hints at where future research might go.1 The same may be said of Walter Brueggemann's book.2 It will be widely discussed, because of the impressive learning of its author, its original structure, and its bold effort to find a way through the confusion that marks much of biblical scholarship at the end of the twentieth century. In addition to providing the material one expects to find in such a work, B. writes with the passion of one who is out to make a case. The theme of the book is testimony, and the book itself is also a testimony. This review article represents one, early effort to appreciate and evaluate this important work. The book begins with two lengthy chapters surveying the history of Old Testament theology and the issues currently facing those who would engage in that enterprise. The heart of the book is divided into four sections, whose titles already reveal that this is a highly original way of organizing the work: I. Israel's Core Testimony, II. Israel's Counter-testimony, III. Israel's Unsolicited Testimony, and IV. Israel's Embodied Testimony. The four chapters of the final section (Prospects for Theological Interpretation) expand on the position B. had outlined for himself earlier in the book. Without comment on the rich detail of the work, it may be possible to reflect on its originality by asking three questions: Where does he stand? How does he work? What has he contributed ?

Affiliations: 1: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


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