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An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible Paperback – July 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0800663636 ISBN-10: 0800663632

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800663632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800663636
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Walter Brueggemann is McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia, and the author of Theology of the Old Testament (1997; CD-ROM 2005), The Prophetic Imagination, 2nd ed. (2001), and The Book That Breathes New Life (2005), among other Fortress titles.

More About the Author

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including Westminster John Knox Press best sellers such as Genesis and First and Second Samuel in the Interpretation series, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination, and Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes.

Customer Reviews

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We are reading it as we study the Hebrew Bible.
"Praise is Israel's appropriate utterance toward the God who makes promises. Protest is Israel's appropriate utterance toward the God who offers juridical rebuke."
And in a generation that has a loose commitment to biblical authority, it seems that this book is timely.
Christopher Esposito-Bernard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Dan on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The heart of Brueggemann's "An Unsettling God" (which itself is a distillation of his larger "Theology of the Old Testament") is his statement that, "the distinctiveness of 'God' in Old Testament tradition concerns YHWH's deep resolve to be a God in relation." He goes on to flesh out what YHWH's dialogical (that word is key) relationships are like with his various partners: Israel, The (individual) Human Person, The Nations, and Creation.
I would recommend this book to nearly any Christian, as it is sure to shake up the rather static categories with which we often think of God, and give insight into the dialogical relationship that he sees as the heart of the Hebrew Bible.

(Here is the link to his larger Theology of the OT:

(The following is a book review, about 1 single-spaced page per chapter, that I wrote for an OT Theology class for which I read this book.)

Chapter 1: YHWH as a Dialogical Character

Brueggemann begins his book by discussing how, "the word God is of course so generic that it can (and has been) construed in any number of directions." (1) He goes on to discuss how "God" can be understood as either a generic impersonal force for good as in Gnosticism or New Age thought. An opposite understanding is, one common in classical theology and popular Christian thought, he says, is to understand God "in terms of quite settled categories," and as "a Being completely apart from and unaffected by the reality of the world.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. N. Anderson on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
An Unsettling God : The Heart of the Hebrew Bible by Walter Brueggemann is an honest reading. It is an honest grappling with the text of the Old Testament. John Goldingay's remarks however summarize this reading succinctly. He notes, ""An unsettling God? 'An unsettling Walter Brueggemann' some of my students would say." This book is a real look by a real scholar concerning the peculiarities of the Old Testament concerning YHWH as a dialogical character and His partnership with Israel, the human person, the Nations, and Creation.

This text itself is a condensing of Brueggemann's larger work, "Theology of the Old Testament". In the Preface he lets us know that "The big idea of this book is that the God of ancient Israel is a God in relationship, who is ready and able to make commitments and who is impinged upon by a variety of "partners" who make a difference in the life of God." (pg. xi) Indeed a God in relationship "pervades the Old Testament".

In the first chapter Brueggemann suggests Christians "in the present time" are to undergo a "recovery of the Jewishness in our ways of reading the text." (pg. 6) He says that "a recurring Christian propensity is to give closure to our readings and interpretations, it is recurringly Jewish to recognize that our readings are always provisional, because there is always another text, always another commentary, always another rabbinic midrash that moves beyond any particular reading." He also discusses Martin Buber and his likewise dialogic reading of the text. There is truth to this but we cannot get leave it here. Even as we read the text, all the while understanding a dialogic nature, and then re-read the text again and again over time we still glean truths that emerged from our initial readings.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nathan P. Gilmour on September 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I first encountered Walter Brueggemann's project as a senior at Milligan College, but I really became a disciple of Bruggemann's in 2000 when as a seminarian I read his gigantic 1997 Theology of the Old Testament. Here was a teacher who certainly wore his ideology on his sleeve (no friend of the Enlightenment's arrogance or the national security state's duplicity here) and whose attention to relationships between texts still impresses me a decade later. I've since had the privilege of attending a few of his public lectures, and this book continues to remind me why being a disciple of Brueggemann is still the most faithful way to read the Bible that I can figure out.

Brueggemann states in this book's introduction that, after ten years, he had decided to revisit some of the central ideas of Theology of the Old Testament, and at several points in the book he retracts certain points of technical scholarship (that is to say, stuff that's so specialized that eight years in English lit have rendered me unable to sustain interest in them), but his more interesting project is to expand significantly on his idea of theology as a dialogical practice.

The idea, although it uses a Hegelian-sounding word, is really just a recognition of the relationships implicit in the Bible: for one, the voice known as YHWH becomes known not by rational deduction but in disruptive, memorable moments of revelation. Moreover, most of the text of the Bible (with very important exceptions) has to do with YHWH's relationships with the Abrahamic clan, then with the Hebrews, then with Israel, then with the Church.
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