cover image AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT: The Canon and the Christian Imagination

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT: The Canon and the Christian Imagination

Walter Brueggemann, Author . Westminster John Knox $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-664-22412-7

Eminent Old Testament scholar Brueggemann (Theology of the Old Testament ) offers a clear and eloquent introductory study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that surpasses many older introductions such as Anderson's Understanding the Old Testament and Bright's A History of Israel . Focusing on the literature of the Old Testament rather than on the ways that such literature grows out of the history of Israel, he emphasizes that the development of the Old Testament was an act of imaginative remembering. It evolved through what he calls a "traditioning" process, whereby the texts grew dynamically out of a confluence of historical, ideological, political and religious forces in Israel. Brueggemann arranges his introduction in canonical order (Torah, prophets, writings) to demonstrate the ways that various themes built upon one another and how the texts reflect the ongoing development of Israel. For example, the "writings"—which include Proverbs, Psalms and Job as well as Esther and Daniel—reflect, in Brueggemann's view, the diversity of life and faith characteristic of post-exilic Judaism. Brueggemann's reading of the Old Testament makes it alive for us today. As we interpret the text in our own times, we engage in the "traditioning" process, for each time we read, new meanings are disclosed to us. Although Brueggemann sometimes veers off into territory for which a background in biblical studies is necessary, his crystal clear prose, lucid ways of telling stories and canny theological insights make this introduction a real gem. (Nov.)

Forecast: Given Brueggemann's stature in Old Testament scholarship and the fresh perspectives of this work, his introduction is likely to become a standard text in seminaries and theological schools.