Archives For Old Testament

 

What is the Human Being?

 
A Review of 

Being Human in God’s World:
An Old Testament Theology of Humanity
J. Gordon McConville

Hardback: Baker Academic, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Nick Jordan
 
 
J. Gordon McConville’s central question, repeated at regular intervals throughout this book, is a Biblical question: “What is the human being, that you [God] should call him to mind; or the son of man that you should pay attention to him?” (Psalm 8:4). He explores this question not only as a Biblical scholar and theologian, but as one who wants to help Christians. As he writes in his Preface, “what follows should be regarded as an essay in reading the Bible in pursuit of oneself, individually and in one’s various communities, as a human being.”

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God’s People as Truth-tellers

 A Feature Review of

Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
Walter Brueggemann

Paperback: WJK Books, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Aaron Woods

 
***Other Books By Walter Brueggemann
 

Power is a tricky thing for many of us to understand. What is power? How does it work and should we use it? Can it be used well or does it always corrupt? How does Scripture reframe the use of power? These questions and more are the focus of theologian, Walter Brueggemann, in his latest book, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture.

 

In his retirement, Brueggemann continues to write extensively, and his books continue to enlighten. Truth Speaks to Power invites readers to reconsider commonly known Old Testament narratives in a new light: through the lens of truth and power. He challenges the reader through this hermeneutical lens to see that, whether the reader recognizes it or not, Scripture is in a process of contesting power.

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A Brief Review of Cain: A Novel
By José Saramago.
Hardback: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by J. Brent Bill

I love retellings of biblical stories, whether they be a fresh retelling of the actual story such as David Maine’s The Preservationist (about Noah) or reinventions like John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  So I was excited when I received Cain by the Nobel winning Portuguese author Saramago.  Here was one of the world’s best writing about one of the world’s worst.  My excitement seemed warranted.

I was less excited than I was confused by the time I finished reading it,though.

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“Reconciling the Biblical Story

A Review of
The Politics of Yahweh:
John Howard Yoder, The Old Testament and the People of God.

by John Nugent

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ This book was chosen as an Englewood Honor Book,
as one of the Best books of 2011! Click Here for the full list… ]


The Politics of Yahweh - John NugentThe Politics of Yahweh:
John Howard Yoder,
The Old Testament and the People of God.

John Nugent
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Excerpt #1: Overview of the Old Testament Story
(Appendix B – PDF)

Excerpt #2: Yoder’s Reading of the Pre-Flood Era

For most Christians, the Old Testament is difficult.  What sense can we make of all its wars, violence and crudity, and of the God who is guiding Israel through all of these things?  There are undoubtedly many parts of the Old Testament that are difficult to reconcile with the person and mission of Jesus that we find in the New Testament.  To resolve these tensions, some people turn to dispensationalism, but that turn raises some tough theological questions about the unchanging nature of God and about how we are to understand God’s mission in the world.  Marcionism, the heresy of rejecting the Old Testament, is a temptation for others, and I imagine that many people – including myself at many times in the not-too-distant past – are attracted to a sort of functional marcionism that affirms the Old Testament as part of the Bible, but largely ignores it because we cannot make sense of it.

For those who believe that the Old Testament is an important part of the story of what God is doing in the world, but yet can’t make sense of how it relates to the life and mission of Jesus and his followers that we find in the New Testament, John Nugent’s new book The Politics of Yahweh will come as a breath of fresh air.

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“Whither Wisdom?

A review of
Old Testament Wisdom Literature:
A Theological Introduction

by Craig Batholomew and Ryan O’Dowd.

Review by Mark Eckel.


Old Testament Wisdom LiteratureOld Testament Wisdom Literature:
A Theological Introduction

Craig Batholomew and Ryan O’Dowd.
Hardback: IVP Academic, 2011.
Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]


Cloud watchers, unite!  Wonder, mystery, miracle, and marvel enfold us in God’s world.  All of life screams of The Creator.  Yet, we Westerners tend to disregard the wisdom resident in creation.  Comfortable in our homes, we forget that one look outside the window might refocus our attention on what matters most.  Daily life surrounds us with displays of Heaven’s call to humans everywhere.  And what is that “call”?  Order, rhythm, pattern, and wholeness bear silent testimony to what should be painfully obvious—because Truth exists, the world works.  Pragmatists that we are sometimes, we think the opposite; if it works it must be true.  Creation and Wisdom should be forever linked in First Testament studies.

Experiential wisdom can be providentially practical.  Biblical wisdom is tied to daily life and its connection to real-world experiences for every time and place.  So, it was with delight that I opened Bartholomew and O’Dowd’s Old Testament Wisdom Literature (OTWL). The authors invest time in obvious concerns: “the fear of The Lord,” poetic devices, theology of wisdom, etc.  But this text supersedes all others for its intersection with and excitement for God’s creation.  Continue Reading…

 

An excerpt from

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist:
Unlocking the Secrets of The Last Supper
.
Brant Pitre.
Hardback: Doubleday Religion, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Read our review above…  ]

 

“Explaining the Magnificence of the Universe

A Review of
The Seven Pillars of Creation:
The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder.

by
William P. Brown
.

Reviewed by David E. Anderson.


The Seven Pillars of Creation:
The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder.

William P. Brown
.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Seven Pillars of Creation - William BrownScience and religion are strange bedfellows along the lines of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the movie The War of the Roses. The family dog is safe, but both parties are going at each other red in tooth and nail, and it’s just a matter of time before the chandelier crashes down on them.

Columbia Theological Seminary professor William Brown says that this dysfunctional relationship that we find nowadays between science and religion doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than look around us at our current messy state of global affairs—pollution, climate change—or back at the long and often sorry history of humankind’s rape of nature—not infrequently justified by religion—and exclaim “The horror!” we should gaze at our world with a different mind-set and rejoice at the wonders of creation. According to Brown, science and religion may not explain the magnificence of the universe in the same words, and at times their explanations may clash, but they share a transcendent goal.

Brown fervently believes that science and religion need not be at each other’s throats: “Is science really hell-bent on eroding humanity’s nobility and eliminating all sense of mystery? Not the science I know. Is faith simply a lazy excuse to wallow in human pretension? Not the faith I know. What if invoking God was a way of acknowledging the remarkable intelligibility of creation?” His goal in this wide-ranging study is a simple one: “I want to bring together two distinct disciplines, biblical theology and modern science, and explore points of conversation in ways that I hope generate more synergy than sparks. My conviction is that one cannot adequately interpret the Bible today, particularly the creation traditions, without engaging science.” Brown’s methodology is straightforward: (1) “Elucidate the [Biblical] text’s perspective on creation within the text’s own contexts.” (2) “Associate the text’s perspective on creation with the perspective of science.” And (3) “Appropriate the text in relation to science and science in relation to the text.”

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I have really been getting back into the works of Walter Brueggemann recently, his two newest books are fabulous ( An Unsettling God and Journey to the Common Good — click for our reviews) and I just picked up a used copy of his classic The Land while I was in Grand Rapids.

So, I was excited to find out about this six-part series (each segment is about an hour long) that Brueggemann gave last Fall on the book of Daniel and what it means for the people of God to be a holy people.   (H/T:  Ragan Sutterfield)


Part 1 – September 30, 2009:


Here are the remaining five segments:

 

“God’s Own Passion
for the Neighborhood

A Review of
Journey to the Common Good.
by Walter Brueggemann.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


Journey to the Common Good.
Walter Brueggemann.
Paperback: WJK Books.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

JOURNEY TO THE COMMON GOOD - BrueggemannOne of the things that we have worked really hard to do as Englewood Christian Church over the past two decades is to gather our neighbors for conversation on imagining what the common good for our neighborhood might look like.  So when the city of Indianapolis declared our neighborhood and the surrounding ones as a “redevelopment zone” several years ago, we played a key role in gathering neighbors to craft – over the course of a year – a specific plan for how we wanted to see our neighborhood improved in a way that would minimize gentrification and not drive out the neighbors who presently live here.  We work with our neighbors in this way because we believe that God is at work, redeeming creation, and that this work of redemption unfolds primarily through the faithfulness of church communities who imagine and discern God’s redemptive work in their specific places.  With these convictions and the experiences of our church community at the forefront of my mind, I was very eager to read Walter Brueggemann’s ideas in his newest book Journey to the Common Good.

I have read a number of Brueggemann’s previous works and have resonated with the basic points of his theological vision as expressed in these books.  In particular, I have a deep appreciation for his emphasis on the people of God (as a community) in God’s redemptive work, on the conversational relationships between God and the people of God (see his recent book An Unsettling God), on the importance of imagination in discerning God’s leading (see The Prophetic Imagination), and finally, on the significance that he places on land and place in the mission of God (see The Land).  All of these convictions are ones that are essential to our life together at Englewood Christian Church.

At the beginning of Journey to the Common Good, Brueggemann observes:  “We face a crisis about the common good [today] because there are powerful forces at work among us to resist the common good, to violate community solidarity, and to deny a common destiny.  Mature people, at their best, are people who are committed to the common good that reaches beyond private interest, transcends sectarian commitments, and offers human solidarity” (1).  From these initial convictions onward, I knew that this was going to be an important book.  Brueggemann structures the book around three Old Testament stories that he believes are essential to discerning our way forward as churches today toward the common good of God’s redemption.  These stories are that of the Exodus, of Jeremiah (and of Solomon and the Jerusalem establishment that Jeremiah would prophetically decry) and finally of Isaiah.

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God: Initiating and Sustaining Conversation

A Review of
An Unsettling God:
The Heart of the Hebrew Bible
.
by Walter Brueggemann.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

[ Read an excerpt of this book here ]


An Unsettling God:
The Heart of the Hebrew Bible
.
Walter Brueggemann.

Paperback: Fortress Press,  2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]


Brueggemann - UNSETTLING GODWalter Brueggemann’s An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible describes first of all a God-in-relation, YHWH understood as he is in dialogue, most especially with Israel, but also with human persons, the nations, and all of creation. Locating God’s primary identity not in unilateral commands or creeds, but rather as an engaged dialectical partner, Brueggemann identifies God’s covenanting act as one in which he is an “available agent who is not only able to act but is available to be acted upon” (9).  Indeed, the agency of Yahweh is seen to be inviting a reciprocal act of participation and conversation from the dialogical partners, suggesting that the response of Yahweh’s chosen people – in attentiveness and discernment – extends the possibilities in the work of reconciliation.

Israel’s identity then, as a people, is also best understood as it is in relation: “If we are to identify what is most characteristic and most distinctive in the life and vocation of this partner of YHWH [Israel], it is the remarkable equation of love of God with love of neighbor, which is enacted through the exercise of distributive justice of social goods, social power, and social access to those without leverage” (29). The demands of justice and holiness are fulfilled within the gathered community of Israel, as they are in relation themselves and with Yahweh. God, as characteristically in relation, places Israel, and consequently all of creation, into a dynamic role in the narrative of God-in-history. In fact, God’s dialogue partners are “invited, expected, and insistently urged to engage in a genuine interaction that is variously self-asserting and self-abandoning, yielding and initiative-taking,” (65) all of which may be characteristics of any good conversation, but when extended to Yahweh as a partner, it becomes the narrative by which God is known as embodied on earth.

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