Here’s one reason why I love Brueggemann: he totally demolishes OT historical criticism. He says that historical criticism is a child of the Enlightenment with objective, scientific, and positivistic epistemological assumptions. Historical critics attempt to explain everything away – including the text itself, Brueggemann laments.
“Such an enterprise…is…incongruent with the text itself. The text is saturated with the odd, the hidden, the dense, and the inscrutable — the things of God. Thus, in principle, historical criticism runs the risk that the methods and assumptions to which it is committed may miss the primary intentionality of the text. Having missed that, the commentaries are filled with unhelpful philological comment, endless redactional explanations, and tedious comparisons with other materials. Because the primal Subject of the text has been ruled out in principle, scholars are left to deal with these much less interesting questions.” In other words, the methodology of historical criticism excludes what the text itself says (intends to do). They’ve missed the major and focus on the minutia.
Here’s why I can’t stand Brueggemann: “It is clear on my reading that the Old Testament is not a witness to Jesus Christ, in any primary or direct sense…unless one is prepared to sacrifice more of the text than is credible.”
I’ll keep reading Brueggemann, to be sure, but his books that I own are marked with just as many question marks (?) as little stars (*).
Quotes taken from Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 104, 107.