Patrick D. Miller
WITHOUT HAVING WRITTEN a commentary on the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann has done more to influence the interpretation and "use" of the Psalms than any other American scholar of his generation. That is evident in two ways. His small study of the Psalms, titled The Message of the Psalms, together with his various essays—some of which are reprinted here—have been used widely among pastors and preachers in their homiletical, liturgical, and pastoral appropriation of the Psalms. Many ministers and priests have pointed to Brueggemann's The Message of the Psalms as among the most helpful resources for the pastoral role of the Psalms. While it is not a commentary per se, it is used frequently in that manner when pastors are preaching on the Psalms or engaging them in the context of pastoral care.
Brueggemann's influence, however, is not confined to the ministerial and ecclesiastical study and use of the Psalms. Hermann Gunkel's classic categorizing of the Psalms into form-critical genres has so carried the day that, until fairly recently, there has been hardly a commentary on the Psalms or an introduction to the Psalter that has not taken its orientation from Gunkel's classification of the Psalms into individual and communal laments, hymns and songs of thanksgiving, royal and wisdom psalms, together with several other less frequent genres. Indeed, many works on the Psalms are organized around these categories. It has only been with Brueggemann's seminal article, "Psalms and the Life of Faith: A Suggested Typology of Function,"