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Struggling with Scripture Paperback – March 1, 2002
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About the Author
Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament, and is the author of numerous books, including Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination and Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes.
William C. Placher was Charles D. and Elizabeth S. LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He was the author or editor of a number of books including A History of Christian Theology, Jesus the Savior, and Essentials of Christian Theology, all published by WJK.
Brian K. Blount is President and Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Secondary Education in Richmond, Virginia. He is the coauthor of Preaching Mark in Two Voices and Making Room at the Table and the author of Can I Get a Witness?, all available from WJK.
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Blount, in the last essay, contends basically that if the Bible is a "Living Word", it is not stagnant, meaning (as I understood it) that the understanding and values of words in the Biblical text, which existed among the first century believers in relation to their way of life, "must no longer be equally valued today." Then he hoes on to give two example of what he means: (1) slavery in America, and (2) homosexual behavior.
It is the second example that is not a good example of texts changing value between the first century Christians and those of today or of it having polyvalent meanings. His conclusion, with respect to the second example, is that since God has "created them, just as they are", therefore, ought they to "be treated equally and accepted faithfully together in one body of faith."
Although, I agree that a single text may have polyvalent meanings, that application of the Biblical principles may differ from one person to another on the basis of how God speaks to them through the Spirit, and that to be serious with the text is to struggle with it, yet, I cannot go so far as to say that such behavior, like homosexuality, might be what we may accept today within the community of believers although it may not have been accepted in the first century (from my perspective), goes to far in freeing the text from restrictive and biased interpretation.
As I shared before, Brueggemenn states that final settlement on "almost all questions" in the Bible is "swlf-evident". I would ask, what text are to be construed as being finally settled and who makes such a determination? Is Blount suggesting that the issue of homosexuality, as consitituting sin in the firts century, is no longer forbidden bahavior? Is Blount implying that one can be a practicing homosexual and a believer simultaneously?
I will say one thing for auch a short book, it is emotionally stimulating and though provoking as it lays open the the challenge to self-inquiry as to how culturally restrictive, theologically biased, and historically ignorant in matters Biblical is the reader when interpreting the Bible.
From his long and intimately personal love for the Psalms, he touches upon his early church tradition of "simple, irenic piety from the past..." One of those few pages in Bruegge's writings when he piles up adjectives and adverbs like, "seemingly, then utterly beyond me in its richness, concretely in my hands and unprecedented generativity!" When he comes out with creative linguistics and adds the emotion of his spoken words, it is enough to take you back into time and forward into what will surely follow...In his rapidly moving train of thought!
He touches Biblical Authority through the avenures of Inherency, Interpretation, Imagination, Ideology and Inspiration. In one of his first classes at Columbia Seminary when I was present he used these five huge words beginning with I's. That immediately hooked me into signing-on for his Survey of Old Testament and next his Theology of the Old Testament.
Brueggemann's first Chapter lives up to the Preface comments by William Sloan Coffin...where he introduces Prof Blount and then Prof Placher and finally in more detail Prof Bruegge. I cannot say enough good things about this little gem of three chapters and delightful preface of Bill Coffin's. When you have heard these two similarly dramatic speakers then you surely will want to digest their magically miraculous, wondrous descriptive words. Gratefully, Retired Chaplain Fred W Hood
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