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An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination [Paperback]

By Walter Brueggemann (Author)
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Item description for An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination by Walter Brueggemann...

This book introduces the reader to the broad theological scope and chronological sweep of the Old Testament. It is written by America's premier biblical theologian. It covers every book of the Old Testament in the order in which it appears in the Hebrew Bible and treats the most important issues and methods in contemporary interpretation of the Old Testament--literary, historical, and theological--without jargon. Brueggemann's telling of the story from the church's perspective--as informed by the theological shape and shaping of the canon--nudges contemporary interpreters into conversation with Jewish brothers and sisters about the creative force of our shared biblical heritage. This book presents the canonical outline and content of the Old Testament in a way that stokes the theological imagination and inspires teaching and preaching. An easily accessible introduction for students in any setting.

Publishers Description
This work introduces the reader to the broad theological and chronological sweep of the Old Testament. It covers every book of the Old Testament in the order in which it appears in the Hebrew Bible and treats the issues and methods in contemporary interpretations - literary, historical and theological - without jargon. informed by the theological shape and shaping of the canon - nudges contemporary interpreters into conversation with Jewish brothers and sisters about the creative force of our shared biblical heritage. This book presents the canonical outline and content of the Old Testament in a way that stokes the theological imagination and inspires teaching and preaching.

Citations And Professional Reviews
An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination by Walter Brueggemann has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 10/13/2003 page 75

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.42" Width: 6.28" Height: 1.19"
Weight:   1.34 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2003
ISBN  0664224121  
ISBN13  9780664224127  

Availability  0 units.

More About Walter Brueggemann

Walter Brueggemann

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary.

Walter Brueggemann has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries
  2. Augsburg Old Testament Studies
  3. Connections
  4. Essential Guide
  5. Facets
  6. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary
  7. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
  8. Library of Biblical Theology
  9. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation
  10. New Cambridge Bible Commentary
  11. New Interpreter's Bible
  12. Old Testament Theology
  13. Overtures to Biblical Theology
  14. Shalom Resource
  15. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary
  16. Understanding Biblical Themes
  17. Westminster Bible Companion

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Brueggemann, Walter
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > Old Testament

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination?

An Excellent Introduction to the Old Testament  Sep 1, 2006
This is one of my favorite books on the `Old Testament.' What makes Brueggemann's analysis so compelling is his ability to offer a coherent and comprehensive reading of the Old Testament, while equally dealing with the difficulties, disunities, and flat-out confounding passages that fill the `Old Testament' cannon. Brueggemann does so by looking at, what he refers to as, the `Christian Imagination.'

In short, Brueggemann is not as concerned with how the `history' of the Old Testament does or does not match up with the historicism of late scholasticism. After all, I think we can all agree that a person writing in the age of antiquity would have a substantially different method and/or intent in his or her written approach than would an eighteenth or nineteenth century historian. For starters, the Jewish writers of antiquity were writing a narrative history, not a history accompanied with narratives. This is an important distinction. In short, their end goal was to tell their story, which they also believed to be God's story. This story inevitably incorporated, and even required, elements of history; yet it was the story itself that always took first priority.

Accordingly, Brueggemann's reading of the `Old Testament' is cohesive and coherent because he understands that it must be read as the narrative story of a historical people, not as a history of a narrative people.
Bruegge's Amazing Intro toThe Hebrew Bible  Aug 21, 2004
Compared to Prof Brueggemann's other Old Testament books, my big surprise is a title of The Old Testament rather than The Hebrew Bible! Added surprise is a sub-title of The Canon and Christian Interpretation. In OT Survey classes he contrasted his approach between Jewish interpretation with Christian inter. So I noted his quotes in using the 4 I's of Interpretation, Ideology, Inspiration, and Imagination! They occur in the Intro and near the end of his chap on Torah. On Page 11 "Now it will occur to an attentive reader that these facts of the traditioning process-Imagination, Ideology, and Inspiration (my caps)-do not easily cohere with each other! Specifically the force of human ideology and the power of divine imagination seem to be definitionally at odds. Precisely! That causes the Old Testament, to be endlessly complex & problematic, endlessly interesting and compelling."

This carried me back to 2002 sessions at Montreat and Columbia upon first hearing his process of interpretation: "The interface beween the canonical and imaginative is exactly the way in which the most responsible and faithful interpretation takes place." I can see & hear his trip from well-neglected notes on the podium up to the chalk-board, as he hastily wrote the Hebrew for his key scripture. In the dramatic Isa 6, after writing the "living creatures," he sailed down the steps, waving wildly his arms all around the wall of the classroom singing "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
He seemed propelled alongside us into the living words of the Prophet. He earned his standing ovation! That was not the only Incident to stress his "Imaginative Remembering."

My review of his process of interpretation in the Preface called to mind his statement: "You will not find anything new in my Introduction, since you heard it in all four classes!" I have yet to grasp his meticulous, continual thot about the generative work of the text in his process of providing an "alternative world" that invites faithful imagination! As usual he draws upon the giants of Amos Wilder and Raymond Brown. I am amazed at his memory in every class to give the right quotation, author, book, and even page number!

In the Preface he outlines his plan to use the Hebrew Canon as the normative list of books organized into three elements: The Torah, traditionally, "The Five Books of Moses." The Prophets as Canon consists of, The Former Prophets, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; the Latter Prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; plus scrolls of Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and the Song of Solomon. Lastly, he considers the revisionist historical corpus of I & II Chronicles, Ezra & Nehemiah, and apocalyptic scroll of Daniel. In spite of many texts & scrolls his coverage is unusually clear and simple!

Near endng his work on Torah he cites the characteristic task of Jewish teaching, nuture, and socialization to invite the youmg into the world of miracle...The preaching, teaching, and study of Torah is in order to set 'one's heart' differently, to trust and fear differently, to align oneself with an alternative account of the world. All this Israel fashioned and practised -imaginatively resolved, ideologically driven, inspired beyond interest -under the large, long, fierce voice of Moses." Bruegge stresses continually "the truthfullness of YHWH" and insists that Bible Study is a life-changing, life-risking venture. One aspect of that venture is re-read Scripture for re-forming and re-reading go inescapably together." In his conclusion before 20 pages of Autobiography, he finally shouts "innocently, critically, obediently, and hopefully! WOW!
Retired, Chap Fred W Hood
A good and faithful study  Dec 31, 2003
I have been a fan of Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of biblical studies from Columbia Theological Seminary, since I encountered him through his text 'Theology of the Old Testament', which formed the basis of a course I took my first year in seminary. Brueggemann has a clear and strong writing style, coupled with definite and innovative ideas about the development of the Hebrew Scriptures as they have come to us.

Brueggemann looks at things from a canonical perspective, ordering the books differently from what most Christians would be used to in their Bibles. Starting with the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, he then proceeds through the prophets and then to the writings. following the canon of the Hebrew bible, and a more likely ordering of original authorship. While all texts have gone through a processes of being handed down, often edited/redacted in the process, their original ideas or events occurred in a particular order.

Brueggemann gives due respect to Brevard Childs and his ideas of canonical criticism while recognising that this can become a limiting tool, and so Brueggemann introduces the idea of imagination as a counter. True to form from his early text 'Theology of the Old Testament' and other texts, Brueggeman looks for the truth that resides in the tension between, in this case, in the tension between the normative and the imaginative becoming of the community.

Brueggemann brings in the wide range of biblical scholars in the course of his study, ignoring very few noted names along the way. This makes his text an ideal book for introductory courses in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament for undergraduates and seminarians. Brueggemann also puts forward his own interesting arguments and interpretations for consideration. The study of the text requires considerations that are historical, theological, literary, social/cultural, and more. These are all dealt with, but in a manner different from most texts.

The three broad sections of the text follow the Tanakh --Torah, Prophets, and Writings. This presents yet another tension for Brueggemann -- the tension between the historical claims and the canonical claims, which also become different from Jewish and Christian perspectives, and even within different Christian traditions. The development of scripture over time, Brueggemann states, is not a neutral academic process, but one in which formative processes and intentions have played a key role, but in which many of these underlying pieces have disappeared from historical view, and are generally absent from the direct text. Brueggemann sets up yet another tension between the ideas of imagination, ideology and inspiration, showing how ideas of these change over time, forming our interpretative paradigms along the way.

Brueggemann calls upon the church to take up a traditioning process, one that is disciplined and faithful, one that avoids both 'confessional closure' on the one hand and 'rationalistic impatience' on the other. In his conclusion, Brueggemann's faith in the scriptures comes through as one that continues the idea of re-imagining and traditioning in a decidedly Reformed framework; nevertheless, he finds fellow travelers in the likes of Roman Catholic Fr. Raymond Brown, who is quoted near the end as saying 'in the scriptures we are in our Father's house where the children are permitted to play.'


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