Walter Brueggemann: Divine Presence Amid Violence

Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

Review by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

To begin this review quite honestly, I chose the text because of the difficult dilemma it was attempting to resolve, namely violence and the Bible and even more specifically violence and war as ordered by God. The second factor that influenced me was the author. If someone can offer a reasonable apologia on the subject, it is Walter Brueggemann. Of value to my choice was also the perfect timing of the book with the war in the Middle East.

Divine Presence Amid Violence makes clear that aggression in the Bible, and more specifically, aggression that “comes” from God, is not to be against the people, but against the chariots and horses. In the Joshua context, they are the tools used by the evil empire to oppress people and use their labor while holding them in fear. Thus, Yahweh’s command is not to destroy peoples and nations, but to destroy the evil empire that oppresses them through destroying its tools of oppression. This is evident on many occasions in the book of Joshua where cities and ethnos are left untouched by the destruction of Israel’s attack.

One, perhaps shocking, aspect in Brueggemann’s apologia comes in the opening chapter, which deals with meaning and interpretation of the Biblical text before approaching a series of narratives from the book of Joshua dealing with violence in the Old Testament as an order from God. This however, does not give enough reason for the statement in the second chapter that, “It is clear that this text, like every biblical text, has no fixed, closed meaning.”

Brueggemann further asserts that the role of God in the concurring of the Promised Land is merely revelatory. And not just in any context of revelation, but the one of the Land of Promise given to Israel by the God of the Exodus. The command of Yahweh refers to the horses and chariots as tools of an evil empire, the same tools with which Egypt and Pharaoh attempted to stop the Exodus of Israel at the Red Sea. It is from the horses and chariots that the liberated Israel must free the Promised Land, not from people or nations.

A disagreement with Brueggemann for the fundamental Bible scholar here is a must. For it is quite obvious to the reader, that a narrative has a definite and fixed meaning within its own historical context. And while the interpretation of a given passage through various other historical moments or cultural aspects may vary its essence as a piece of history remains intact.

Brueggemann raises an interesting proposal in the conclusion, suggesting that the modern church is often embedded in the culture of chariots and horses, rather than opposing it; thus counter parting a number of modern interpretations of the Kingdom of God and suggesting that with our theology and actions we as people of God are to be liberators from the tools of oppression and not their enforcers.

5 Comments

  • Troy Day
    Reply October 27, 2019

    Troy Day

    Brueggemann on WAR is an all time classic William DeArteaga Joe Absher HOWEVER I disagree with Nelson Banuchi on religion as the cause of all or most wars with some graphics and a list of non-religious regimes to count of lives murdered under each regime. What Steve Losee has posted on slavery is too absolute lunacy!

    How about the Irish slaves, or the English and Scottish slaves? Well perhaps Germany should repay all of the insaneness imparted to the Jews, or Japan to the Chinese? Wake up humanity…we are blessed to enjoy freedom…and see the fruits of all of our labors! Looking in the past for what??? Never have seen anyone do well driving and always looking back!!!

    now Isara Mo has written about defensive murder sounds great but is NO Bible in the NT Jesus was explicit and even Neil Steven Lawrence found no NT verse to back it The cited Rev 19 is calling us to wait on Jesus for his final judgment instead of taking things in our hands WHO CAN TELL it better than GOD ????

    • Nelson Banuchi
      Reply October 27, 2019

      Nelson Banuchi

      “I disagree with Nelson Banuchi on religion as the cause of all or most wars”

      Where did I say that? I think you may have misread something…

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 27, 2019

      Troy Day

      Nelson Banuchi on your stats post of 20th century wars I believe war was caused by religion and is so even today Clinton war on the Balkans was religion related VERY MUCH so though he used it for his scandal Trumps war manipulations are religion based – lave religion conflict unsolved Kill Christians via our social and military lack of action AND ALSO very important Trumps war is dictated by evangelical religious groups as ushering the New Millenium – post mil theology NAR taking over politics and economy and a very liberation theology orientation we’ve discussed with Neil Steven Lawrence Angel Ruiz and others

      FREE CONSTANTINOTPOLE is now a 21st century call raised by many in regard of Turkey though I don’t think Erdogan is the antiChrist as Ricky Grimsley misleadingly believes

    • Nelson Banuchi
      Reply October 27, 2019

      Nelson Banuchi

      Troy Day Stats doesn’t say wars are not caused by religion, but only a very small percentage.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 27, 2019

      Troy Day

      so be it still an invalid claim – ALL wars involving Christian nations were religion based I cant think of 1 that was not

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