The Psalms and the Life of Faith

By Walter Brueggemann; Patrick D. Miller | Go to book overview

8

Covenanting as Human Vocation:
The Relation of the Bible and
Pastoral Care

AT THE OUTSET, we can recognize that the Bible offers no single perspective on anthropology, and more than one posture might be considered here. Of those possibilities, the one we will consider is the following: covenant is the dominant metaphor for biblical faith by which human personality can be understood. That metaphor provides important points of contact and abrasion with psychological alternatives in our society.1

It is not self-evident that covenant is a dominant metaphor for all of the Bible. However, "covenant" as used here refers most broadly to a way of perceiving reality. Two disclaimers are immediately required. First, "covenant" is not used here in any precise, technical sense to refer to the "treaty hypothesis" that has dominated in Old Testament studies.2 Second, I do not refer to "covenant" in the same way as Walther Eichrodt, who tended to fit everything into one mold.5 Thus in using the metaphor, I do not specify any particular school

1. The tension and/or contrast of biblical perspectives with the dominant
alternatives in our culture is well stated by Robert Katz, "Martin Buber and
Psychotherapy," HUCA 46 (1976): 413–31.

2. On that scholarly enterprise, see the review and assessment of Dennis
McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1972).

3. See Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1961). For a careful assessment of Eichrodt's covenantal hypothesis, see Nor-
man Gottwald, "W. Eichrodt: Theology of the Old Testament," in Contemporary Old
Testament Theologians, ed. Robert B. Laurin (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson Press, 1970),
25–62.

-150-

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