Books reviewed by James Woodward

In a theological spirit

The Word That Redescribes the World: the Bible and Discipleship by Walter BrueggemannThe Word That Redescribes the World:  the Bible and Discipleship by
Walter Brueggemann
Fortress Press, Minneapolis 2006.
Xviii + 237 pp.

An elegantly produced book of essays by a distinguished Old Testament theologian and ethicist, much valued, especially in the American Protestant world, for his open-minded  and wide-ranging work over many years. His discipline is seen not chiefly in the increasingly technical linguistic and historical investigations dominant in the UK, but in a more theological spirit that looks towards a wider readership and sphere of interest. In these ways, Brueggemann shows himself a man of the Church, who, while taking full account of historical criticism and the other tools of his trade, is also concerned with the ideas and cultural factors at work in the life of Israel and visible in the Old Testament literature. He is also alert for implications for the critique of modern life, notably with regard to American power politics and consumerism.

While most of these essays are learned papers, written for journals, essay collections and the like, some are almost sermonic in tone, in a way that is presumably more characteristic of American Protestantism than current English church life.

The range of topics is wide, but most essays comment on areas of life and thought relevant both to aspects of ancient Israel and modern life in the West. Some are perhaps rather rhetorical for English taste and some may well fail to attract interest in today’s rather pragmatic English churches, for whom the Old Testament is not always in the forefront of interest.

James Woodward