Prayer as an Act of Daring Dance:
Four Biblical Examples
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, relationship to God is best understood under the notion of covenant.1 This is so whether God's covenant partner is creation, the nations, Israel, or the individual person. I take the metaphor of covenant in the broadest possible way to refer to a relationship that matters intensely to both parties. In such an interaction, the action of either party may place the other at risk in serious covenanting, and each party submits to some governance or redefinition by the covenantal partner. This may seem so obvious that it is a truism. But if it is a truism, it is one that was asserted in Israel only with great struggle. That struggle is still underway among us in our theological understanding. The notion that God may be at risk in the covenantal relationship is a subversive idea.2 This conviction subverts the contractual, quid pro quo theology of the ancient Near East,3 and it intends to subvert all scholastic notions of theology that put God well beyond all the issues and the risks—notions that are powerful even today.
1. On the metaphor of covenant taken most broadly, see my essays "Covenant as
Subversive Paradigm" and "Covenant and Social Possibility," in W. Brueggemann, A
Social Reading of the Old Testament (see chap. 5, n. 21), 43–69, and chap. 8 in this
2. See my essay "A Shape for Old Testament Theology, II: Embrace of Pain," in
W. Brueggemann, Old Testament Theology (see chap. 5, n. 31), 22–44.
3. See my essay "A Shape for Old Testament Theology, I: Structure Legitima-
tion," in Brueggemann, Old Testament Theology, 1–21.