Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Review of "Revelation And Violence: A Study In Contextualization" by Walter Brueggemann

I was very excited when I found this book because, one, the history of violence in the Hebrew Scriptures is disturbing and, two, I love Brueggemann. My favorite Christian book is Prophetic Imagination by the same (so far, he hasn't paid me to say that).

This conversation about the use of sanctioned violence by YHWH is especially pertinent for our day and age. Christians on both sides, and any other sides that can be found, of the political spectrum are talking about it through the context of the war in Iraq, as well as discussing the argument of "just war" and "non-violent resistance".

The book begins with a consideration of methods of interpretation, a synopsis that makes the book worth the read for that alone. For those not well-read on the ever changing art of hermeneutics, Brueggemann provides a window into the act of interpretation that seeks deep understanding: "Thus scripture as revelation is not a flat, obvious offer of a conclusion, but it is an ongoing conversation which evokes, invites, and offers" (6).

Brueggemann does not offer conclusive evidence of the will of God for the use of violence in this book. The express purpose is to discover "revelation in context" (7), which he does using the text of Joshua 11, coming at the question of divinely sanctioned violence sideways. Using this method, Brueggemann provides the seed of an answer and you now have a window to search the rest of scripture yourself.

So does God sanction or endorse violence under some circumstances? You will have to read the book yourself to get the answer (you didn't think I was going to give it away, did you?).

Without giving up the book, it does reaffirm that God is the god of the oppressed and marginalized, and encourages legitimate action of behalf of those seeking His alternative society - God wants us to be free! Brueggemann points to the source of the powers and authorities that seek domination and they are closer than you think. No, it is not your most hated politician (at least, by name). Surplus and Accumulation are the antecedents of the wrong kind of power, and they are knocking on everyone of our doors.

Can we overcome? How much do we need to conquer these enemies? YHWH is enough (43).

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