Home > Same-Sex 'Marriage', SSB's, Theology > Video Transcript: “Walter Brueggemann on the Bible”

Video Transcript: “Walter Brueggemann on the Bible”

7 April 2010

[Elder’s note:  I’ll probably be fisking this sometime this week or this month, but I wanted to post this and have all of us think about what Brueggemann is saying.  I do of course disagree with Brueggmann on many fronts.  He is of interest to me because I see his name cropping up a lot for speaking engagements in DSO parishes.  Oddly enough in fact, I had a conversation about Brueggemann this very weekend with a friend of mine, a Biblical scholar;  only to return home and read this article over on StandFirm…. proving that it never rains, but it pours. 

For now, I invite your comments:  What is Brueggemann saying?  What is his argument?  What is right or wrong about it? 

Swing away, Oysters.  😉 ]

Q: Despite what you’ve said that it is the wrong move or the easy move to resort to violence to support and uphold our victory of our God, there is a huge percentage of our people that turn turn to economic and political and social violence to try and justify their God of victory. How does that square with our Hebrew scripture roots and our gospel?

WB: I think that the Old Testament (to some extent the New Testament) but the Old Testament is saturated with violence and I believe that the God of the Bible is deeply implicated in this inheritance of violence and therefore people who appeal to that are .. they are reading the Bible. I believe that the God of the Bible is a recovering agent of violence, and as in all programs of recovery, you never get over it. It’s always latently there again and I don’t think we can duck that. The usual liberal strategy about violence in the Old Testament is that whenever it is attributed to God, “well they just attributed that, it’s a human projection, it’s full wrong.” But that seems to be too easy. And so I think that we are going to deal theologically with the problem of violence, forever, because it is intrinsic to our inheritance and the question for God and the question for all of us who follow this God is whether we can resist that stuff that is intrinsically present in our existence.

Q: And where did Jesus come in and shake that, ‘intrinsic violence,’ up?

WB: He is a mutation. He is not the only mutation, but he is the mutation around which we have gathered our lives that people do (). I think you could argue that Hosea was a mutation before Jesus. This whole business about suffering love in Hosea and all that. The big revelatory moments before Jesus and Jesus and after Jesus are characteristically departures from what has been taken for granted. And I think you can say that about all recent liberation movements – of race and gender – and all that – they are departures from what has been taken for granted.

Q: ‘Departures,’ in what way?

WB: Well, in every dimension. A departure intellectually, a having a new idea, but emotionally, economically. If you just think of feminism, a departure from all the assumptions of patriarchy. And there is no dimension of our common life that doesn’t require a dimension economics, emotion, everything, and because it’s such a radical departure, you can see the enormous resistance to that movement, and so on. And, I think, in terms of the gay/lesbian revolution, it’s the same thing – that to imagine that these are legitimately first-class citizens is a huge departure. I was watching yesterday afternoon a radio / television preacher who was going on about all these sins and he said that homosexuality was such a heinous sin that in 19th-Century biblical commentaries, it wasn’t even mentioned – you couldn’t even name it. And to think that somehow, someone makes the claim that our faith is requiring us to move in a new direction about that.. and I, you know, I think that there is great human imagination and great courage, but eventually those departures can only be explained by the movement of God’s Spirit. That they are far beyond all that we can ask or think or imagine.

Q: Beyond the text, beyond tradition, beyond ..

WB: Yup. That’s right.

Q: It’s out of control?

WB: That’s right. It is. Which is why there is no final reading of the text. We’re always going to read it again and we’re going to be led somewhere else.. Which is what keeps us in business.

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