The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary

By Walter Brueggemann | Go to book overview

5
A Retrospect:
Spirituality and Theodicy

There can be no doubt that the Psalms are an important resource for spirituality and have been so for countless generations. That is indeed why we continue to study them. These words have mediated to persons and communities the presence of God. The format for our presentations of the Psalms has assumed that authentic spirituality, i.e., genuine communion with God, is never removed from the seasons, turns, and crises of life. So the modes of God's presence (and absence) and the quality of communion are very different in times of orientation and disorientation. What one says in conversation with God is deeply shaped by one's circumstance of orientation and disorientation. Relationship with God is not immune to the surprises and costs of our daily life.

However, spirituality by itself is an inadequate basis for reading the Psalms. For the most part, to place Psalms in the domain of spirituality is a Christian approach, indeed, even an approach of a part of the Christian tradition. A very selected reading of the Psalms has been necessary to keep the Psalms within the confines of conventional spirituality. Taken by itself, the conventional perspective of spirituality does not fully take into account the decisively Jewish character of the Psalms.1 Throughout this study I have been aware of the startling assertion of Jose Miranda: “It can surely be said that the Psalter presents a struggle of the just against the unjust.”2 To be sure, Miranda's judgment is also a partial perspective and does not include everything to be found in the Psalter. But it does point to something important that may draw us into the categories of Jewish faith. The struggle of the oppressed against the unjust, when cast theologically, is the issue of theodicy. These con

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