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Spirituality of the Psalms (Facets) [Paperback]

By Walter Brueggemann (Author)
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Item description for Spirituality of the Psalms (Facets) by Walter Brueggemann...

Using a model of orientation--disorientation--new orientation, Brueggemann explores how the genres of the Psalms can be viewed in terms of their functions. The result is a fresh reading of these ancient songs that illuminate their spiritual depth.

Publishers Description
Using a model of orientation - disorientation - new orientation, Brueggemann explores how the genres of the Psalms can'be viewed in terms of their function. This results in fresh readings of these ancient songs that illumine their spiritual depth. The voices of the Psalms come through in all their bold realism.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Pages   80
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.06" Width: 4.3" Height: 0.24"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 16, 2001
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Edition  New  
Series  Facets  
ISBN  0800634500  
ISBN13  9780800634506  

Availability  81 units.
Availability accurate as of Sep 25, 2017 07:38.
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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. Essential Guide
  3. Facets
  4. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary
  5. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
  6. Library of Biblical Theology
  7. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation
  8. New Interpreter's Bible
  9. Old Testament Theology
  10. Overtures to Biblical Theology
  11. Shalom Resource
  12. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary
  13. 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 > Faith
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > Old Testament
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality

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

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Reviews - What do customers think about Spirituality of the Psalms (Facets)?

a tiny gem  Jan 18, 2007
This little book, which is an abridged version of Brueggemann's longer volume The Message of the Psalms (1984), explains why the "strange literature" of the Psalms has had such an abiding influence on Christians down through the centuries. In particular, Brueggemann shows how and why the "psalms of negativity," largely neglected by believers because they sound so harsh and are thus embarrassing, remain so relevant to the personal, pastoral, and public dimensions of Christian life today. He does not treat all the Psalms, or even most of them, but instead offers a threefold scheme to understand the theological trajectory of these powerful poems--psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation, and psalms of new orientation.

In my own experience I agree wholeheartedly with Brueggemann when he writes that today "much Christian piety and spirituality is romantic and unreal in its positiveness...But such a way not only ignores the Psalms; it is a lie in terms of our experience." The "psalms of negativity" are thus profoundly subversive because they help us to embrace what we try so very hard to deny, that is, the darkness, self-deception, and overall disorientation that characterizes much of life. Our culture prizes success and control, and even does not like surprises. But the Psalms, says Brueggemann, point us to a twofold movement of faith. First, we move from a settled orientation to a season of disorientation. Then, we move on to a new orientation that comes to us as a surprise gift of God's grace. Of course, this cycle continues and repeats itself throughout life. The "stunning fact," writes Brueggemann, "is that Israel does not purge this unrestrained speech but regards it as genuinely faithful communication" with God. That should be no less true today than three millennia ago when these poem-prayers were first written. Far from a literature that we should shun or explain away, these psalms offer to us a unique "healing candor."
Very useful for understanding the Psalms: Readable and telling...  Jan 5, 2007
In both private and public prayer, in reading for pleasure the Psalms as they are published in "The Book of Common Prayer" and in both my King James Bible, and NSRV, I have sought meaning and understanding. In an effort to gain that end, I turn to intelligent commentaries for help. "Spirituality of the Psalms" by Walter Brueggemann is such a book, and it is a readable, slim one from Fortress Press--a mere 74 pages as I note from my copy.

I have welcomed this title into my home, with its dramatic black & white illustration on the cover. It is a favorite not only for me, but for others with whom I've said: "Have you read this book?" Sometimes the blurb on the back cover of a book is hyperbole, but the statement, "Brief, brilliant treatments of vital aspects of faith and life" rings true. I will restrain myself from writing a glowing review, for that measure would betray the dignified and dignified writing style of this book on faith. Categorized under the definition "Hebrew Bible," and this certainly is an accurate categorization I think, the paperback copy I own is for readers who wish explanation, orientation, and educational illumination regardless of being Christian or Jewish.

In this review I have tended towards my own uses for the book, and I could say those are the pastoral uses. The author, in his preface, tells the reader the various kinds of ways he addresses the purposes of his writing. Here I want to pause a moment, and tell you reader that the book is illuminating. It will give you ideas, and explain things to you as a reader in ways that you will find helpful and interesting. But for my purposes, here is a way I found the book useful, in Walter Brueggemann's words from the book's preface:

"In an attempt to be 'postcritical,' I have had in mind especially the pastoral use of the Psalms. By that I mean how the Psalms may function as voices of faith in the actual life of the believing community. So I have sought to consider the interface between the flow of the Psalms and the dynamics of our common life."

I think there are many readers of the Psalms, some for their private interest, and others like me who also follow them in public and private worship. The Psalms speak to us. One cares about them, they offer a wider life, a connection to God, an explanation of our existence. The book offers: "Human life consists in satisfied seasons of well-being that evoke gratitude for the constancy of blessing. Matching this we will consider 'psalms of orientation,' which in a variety of ways articulate the joy, delight, goodness, coherence, and reliability of God, God's creation, and God's governing law." Please note that there is wisdom in this book about the Psalms, and it will be apparent to you on reading the book.

Of the book's direction, the purpose lies in a book of both orientation and disorientation. "This may be an abrupt or a slowly dawning acknowledgment. It constitutes a dismantling of the old, known world and a relinquishing of safe, reliable confidence in God's good creation." For the believer, this is good news.

Is this a book about something written from centuries past that continues and still brings good into our lives? In other words, is the reading of the Psalms and their use in prayer beneficial in our times? Are they worth the trouble to understand and work with? And for the Christian, are they a telling source of knowing Christ and living ones life in the Christian way? The author speaks directly to their value by making them become for us available, and by his authority as a scholar and teacher broadening the meaning of the Psalms. This is a direct statement that tells us what the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia USA says:

"The Psalms speak of a healthy, oriented life that is anticipated, even if not yet experienced. There moves in these psalms a deep conviction that God's purpose for the world is resilient. That purpose will not yield until creation is brought to fullness. The Psalms assert that the creation finally is committed to and will serve the Creator." I take that to mean, also, that the world is created for good, and that even the universe is a friendly place.

These are some notes on commentary from the book: The personal complaint song shows a great variety of "...psalms of disorientation." Communal complaint songs take more effort, for "...the category of the personal, even psychological, has become our mode of experiencing reality. We have, at the same time, experienced a loss of public awareness and public imagination." The result is we have "...little experiental counterpart to the communal complaint psalms." There are religious dimensions for such complaint and loss, the author explains. This book will be satisfactory for those who have religious inclinations and practices.

As I write this review, I am enjoying going through the book to refresh my memory of its message and information, and I believe a reader could easily read this title and come back to it a year later or so, and reread the book. That way one may get more from it. Apparently, the author believes the Psalms have transformative power. There is beauty in the words, and there is spiritual and religious meaning in the Psalms. In the section, "Hymns of Praise," the book clearly leads one to that understanding, and influences the reader rightly, that he or she will benefit from the historical power of the Psalms:

Sung with abandonment in praise to God, as Professor Brueggemann puts it, he says, " the pattern of orientation-disorientation-new orientation that we have pursued, these psalms should all be placed at the very end of the process as surprising, glad statements of a new ordering of life, or whether they should be treated as the very deepest and established statement of the old orientation that is firm, settled, and nonnegotiable." There is a thematic statement, a solid remark of learned value that like much in this book leads the reader to understanding the Psalms as instruments for relationship with God, and means of reconciliation.

For those wanting and even needing explanation and commentary of the Psalms that will enhance and even illuminate their use and reading, this slim volume is a welcome addition to a library. And if that library is a small one, make this one of that number. Keep the book, read it again even a year later. "Spirituality of the Psalms," a remarkable book that reads well and may be approached with ease.

--Peter Menkin, Christmas

Academic; Assumes a LOT of its Readers  Oct 28, 2005
I agree with the one other reviewer of this book on the PSALMS and take no issue with that review. However, I wish to review from another angle......that of the beginner to the study of scripture. This book is not a book for beginners. It is very academic. When I purchased this book, because it is short, less than 100 pages, I assumed it would be sort of a "primer" introduction to the study of the Psalms. That it is NOT! My Bible study class is studying the Psalms at my church and I am sure most people in the class studying the Psalms for the first time would be quite put off by this book. One thing that I find quite troublesome, even for an academic treatment is this: Brueggemann cites name of other authors in the text and then does not place a citation for that author reference in the bibliography. The practice of doing this is drilled into any high school student writing their first term paper and Brueggemann is lax in this regard as is the publisher who allowed that oversight and lack of rigor by Brueggemann, an academic author who should know better.
Brueggemann Shines Again  May 5, 2002
Barbara and I both avidly admire The Psalms and Dr. Brueggemann. Our greatest expectation for the summer is to hear him preach and teach at the Presbyterian Conference on Music and Worship at Montreat. I am deeply indebted to him for his keenly inspired commentary on GENESIS. For two quarters of Preaching Genesis, I have tuned-into his studies in depth to prepare several sermons and hear young students at MERCER/McAFEE School of Theology preach their sermons inspired by Brueggemann.

This little gem of a book is the abridged version of The Message of Psalms. In his final chapter of the shorter version, he focuses on God's Justice. There he sites his thesis of three dimensions of 'orientation, disorientation and reorientation:'
* It is pathological to challenge the present order of economic and political power.
* It is pathological to suggest that God may be unjust.
* It is pathological to speak, as some of these psalms do, in a voice of disorientation.

Brueggemann inserts 'imprisonment' as one crisis in which the seven psalms of disorientation are best addressed. Here is the one place in all of his books on Psalms where I have read his clearest views on the issue of theodicy. "The struggle of the oppressed against the unjust, when cast theologically, is the issue of theodicy."

Only recenty in someone's sermon I read that, "God prefers the losers in life." While serving as the Chaplain in Georgia's Diagnostic Center, I often wondered if this is not the case for a very few of the choicest and often long-termed inmates. I did often repeat the points of Brueggemann's sermons to the inmates for the Sunday evening sermons. One or two were read back to me by inmates in their rehabilitation group discussions. When I repeated that incident one day in a chance meeting with Prof. Brueggemann, he smiled and replied: "Gee, Thanks!"

Never before as minister, chaplain or teacher have I discovered so many profound yet simple books by one commentator, especially focused upon the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Thanks and WOW!
Chaplain Fred W. Hood


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