God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann

God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann

God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann

God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann


This volume engages the work of Walter Brueggemann by centering on the character of God in the text of the Old Testament as a site of theological tension and even ambivalence. Brueggemann's monumental Theology of the Old Testament addresses this fact with great theological insight and rigor, and these internationally renowned biblical scholars engage and extend his insights into the "unsettled Character... at the center of the text."


The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked them how they
dared so roundly to assert that God spake to them; and whether they did not
think at the time, that they would be misunderstood, & so be the cause of

Isaiah answer’d. I saw no God nor heard any… as I was then perswaded
& remain confirm’d; that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God,
I cared not for consequences but wrote.

Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make it so?

He replied. All poets believe that it does, & in ages of imagination this
firm perswasion removed mountains; but many are not capable of a firm
perswasion of any thing.

… I heard this with some wonder, & must confess my own conviction.

—WILLIAM BLAKE, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

This passage from the late-eighteenth-century apocalyptic poet William Blake is astonishing for a number of reasons, but mostly because of its prophetic audacity. The setting is a dinner party with the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. What would one discuss with such intimidating dinner guests? Blake wastes no time with formalities but asks the pair straight out how they dare to assert the fact of revelation. The answer given by Isaiah is perhaps no less astounding than his presence at Blake’s table: “I saw no God nor heard any… I cared not for consequences but wrote.” Revelation for Blake’s Isaiah is not an event that precedes its writing, but instead is bound up with the act of writing itself. Isaiah’s God takes shape only in the writing—a writing that is a matter of both risk (“I cared not for consequences”) and firm persuasion. The risk lies in the conviction, which “all poets believe,” that a firm persuasion, put into writing, has the power to “make a thing so.” That is, the poet has the risk-ridden power to make available through the written word that which was not previously available.

Walter Brueggemann’s work as a scholar and teacher of the Bible resonates with this passage from Blake. It was as a teacher that the two of . . .

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