Category Archives: Hermeneutics

Review: Divine Presence Amid Violence (Walter Brueggemann)

Divine PresenceFollowing on the heels of my review of EisenbraunsWar in the Bible and Terrorism in the 20th Century (Part One, Two, Three), I read Walter Brueggemann’s Divine Presence Amid Violence: Contextualizing the Book of Joshua (Published by Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock Publishers). Can you detect the theme of some of the books I am reading? Violence, especially when it touches on areas of religion, is a very hot topic when we consider current events in the news. It is a dilemma to condemn a present-day issue of violence when a similar type of violence seems to be condoned in some parts of the Hebrew Bible.

In this book, Brueggemann takes a brief (the text of the book is only 65 pages) look at an “exceedingly difficult text” (p. 11) in the Hebrew Bible: Joshua 11.

In the introduction, Brueggemann discusses how the conviction that Scripture is revelatory (by communities of Jews and Christians) is necessarily appropriated differently because of differences of contexts and cultural settings. He believes that the current state of hermeneutics convinces many (including himself) that there is “no single, sure meaning for any text.” Thus, the “revelatory power of the text is discerned and given precisely through the action of interpretation which is always concrete, never universal, always contextualized, never ‘above the fray,’ always filtered through vested interest, never in disinterested purity” (p. ix). If this is true of the interpretation process, then, according to Brueggemann, it should also be true of the process that forms, shapes and presents the text. Brueggemann suggests that because of this, revelation is never “simply a final disclosure, but is an ongoing act of disclosing that will never let the disclosure be closed.”
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