dinsdag 5 februari 2013

Review of: W. Brueggemann, Isaiah. 2 vols. (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 1998; in: Biblical Theology Bulletin

W. Brueggemann, Isaiah. 2 vols. (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 1998

Review in: Biblical Theology Bulletin 2000 30: 37
Review door: John F. Craghan
Gevonden op: http://btb.sagepub.com/content/30/1/37.1.full.pdf+html

Walter Brueggemann, ISAIAH 1-39. ISAIAH 40-66. Westminster Bible Commentary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998. Pp. x + 314; x + 263. Paper, $20.00; $18.00.

As contributions to the Westminster Bible Commentary series, these two volumes, while offered to the church at large, focus specifically on the laity. Emphasizing such an audience does not, however, diminish the insights that the author provides for both scholar and non-scholar alike. Employing the New Revised Standard Version as the basic text, the commentary reveals both the wealth of the underlying biblical tradition and the exegetical and theological acumen of Walter Brueggemann.

The author accepts the critical view that the Book of Isaiah consists of three principal sections that span the period from approximately 740 to 520 BCE. But he rightly insists that one must deal with the final form of this complex text. The result is that the Isaiah tradition as a totality is constantly held up before the reader’s eye. This is, to be sure, a canonical approach that adroitly moves beyond the historical-critical to the theological dimension.

The God of these sixty-six chapters is aptly termed the &dquo;Disjunctive One.&dquo; The movement throughout is one of displacement and restoration, but a movement that involves all three principal components. For example, the judgment in 1:2-31 is followed by the hope of 2:1-4. Similarly the judgment in 2:5-4:1 culminates in the hope of 4:2-6. This program of reversal, break, and affirmation anticipates the larger scope of the entire book with the structural break between chapter 39 and chapter 40. By the time one has read 4:2-6, the editors of the book have carried the reader into the postexilic discussions about purity, holiness, and the composition of the community of survivors (see 56:3-8).

The interconnectedness of the book is constantly elaborated. Thus the &dquo;former and latter things&dquo; of 43:18-19 form a clear link with 9:1 and 65:16-17. In a similar way the call of the prophet in 40:1-11 is a deliberate counterpoint to 6:1-13. Likewise the offer of hope in 4:2-6 relates to the fuller poetic statement of 62:1-12, where Yahweh is fully present to Zion that Zion may be secure and prosper.

The typical delight in Brueggemann’s work is the way in which he springs the text, i.e., the way he moves from exegesis to hermeneutics. In discussing 11:12-16, the author urges the reader to focus on our own world with its huge company of exiles, homeless, and displaced persons. In commenting on Shebna and Eliakim in 22:15-25, Brueggemann challenges the believer with his discussion of both good and bad stewardship in the church. In 24:1-23 the author presents the biblical view of the world as Yahweh’s creation and contrasts it with the modern model of the world as a self-sustaining life system without reference to the Creator. In 29:13-16 he raises the typical prophetic concern of true versus false worship. He observes that the problem of connecting worship to life is a recurring one for the people of Yahweh. In handling the role of Babylon in biblical tradition as a whole, Brueggemann finds a powerful equivalence of Babylon in the ideology of free‑market consumerism and its necessary ally, unbridled militarism. By such springing of the text, the author powerfully points out the great wealth that is the Book of Isaiah.

To sum up, these two volumes are a welcome addition for both scholar and non-scholar alike. By treating the book as a totality, by showing the link between salvation oracle and disputatio speech, by revealing the interconnectedness of the different components, and by showing the vitality of this rich biblical tradition to our modern world, Brueggemann has once again put us in his debt.

John F. Craghan
St. Norbert College
De Pere, WI 54114

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