dinsdag 5 februari 2013

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

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

Review in: Interpretation 1999 53: 422
Review door: Claire Mathews McGinnis
Gevonden op: http://int.sagepub.com/content/53/4/422.1.full.pdf+html

Isaiah 1-39, by Walter Brueggemann. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 1998. 312pp. $20.00. ISBN 0-664-25524-8.
Isaiah 40-66, by Walter Brueggemann. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 1998. 280pp. $18.00. ISBN 0-664-25791-7.

ALTHOUGH PUBLISHED SEPARATELY, these two commentaries function well as companion volumes since the author's aim has been to understand Isaiah in its intentionally-shaped final form, while at the same time holding in view the distinct features of any given chapter or section. Those who delve into only one of the volumes will have no trouble getting their bearings, however; the author's introduction to the whole is printed at the beginning of each volume, and complements nicely the helpful overviews to particular subsections of the prophecy.

While Brueggemann's primary interest is in "the theological stuff of the text," he by no means slights the book's concrete historical referents. Indeed, the major strength of the commentaries may lie in his wonderful ability to discuss the  prophetic message in relation to its historical contexts, but in a way which makes the theological relevance of Isaiah's vision apparent without the need for a separate "application" section. He is more explicit in some places than others in relating the prophet's message to contemporary circumstances. These offer, perhaps, his most unique contribution, but are also the places in which his comments may fall flat for some readers.

Of special note are Brueggemann's attempts to address how one might read Isaianic texts christologically, but not "preemptively." For instance, in relation to 52:13-53:12 he promotes, and models, a kind of reading that seeks to avoid Christian triumphalism in favor of recognizing "the commonality and parallel structure" of Jewish and Christian claims to God's capacity and willingness to "do something new through suffering." One wonders, though, whether a Jewish reader would not see such an enthusiastic embrace of suffering as decidedly Christian, influenced by a belief in the salvine nature of Christ's crucifixion. To his credit, Brueggemann openly admits his reading is "probably more Christian than [he knows] or intend[s]." Overall, readers will find these works of a seasoned interpreter both interesting and immensely helpful in getting a foothold in Isaiah's complex work.

Claire Mathews McGinnis
Loyola College in Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland

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