Ask Brueggemann Anything

Icon-round-Question_markIf you’ve seen Dr. Brueggemann give a presentation, you know one of the most engaging parts is the Q&A at the end. Brueggemann takes time to interact meaningfully with audience members.

Many, however, have not had the opportunity to see him in person, or if you have, you haven’t been able to ask a question.

Knowing this, Dr. Brueggemann has graciously agreed to answer select questions submitted through this website. If you want to ask him a question, leave it in the comments section on this post (not on Facebook). Here are some helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Questions must be submitted by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Monday, April 29.
  • You can ask about anything: theology, current affairs, writing habits, or more ordinary things, like music or food preferences.
  • We will select several questions for Dr. Brueggemann and post his answers when he is able to answer them.
  • For questions that Dr. Brueggemann doesn’t personally answer, we will open them up to the readers of this blog and see if we can work on some answers together.

With that said, fire away!

Comments & Responses

31 Responses so far.

  1. Rev. Cynthia Abrams says:

    Dr. Brueggeman,
    One of the most difficult intransigent problems among American Indian people is historical trauma and grief. I turn again and again to Jeremiah’s words (Jer. 29:11-15) to console myself as I try to find the right balance between truth-telling yet succor when preaching amongst my community. What are your thoughts on systemic evil that produces suffering?

  2. Mark Hinds says:

    Dr. Brueggeman,
    May I contact you about writing for Congregational Ministries Publishing, the other PCUSA publishing house?

    Thank you!

  3. Steve Herder says:

    What advice do you have for how the church could pray/sing the Psalms in worship?

  4. Evan says:

    What is the distinctive contribution Christians can make to conservation and deep green ecology.

  5. Current affairs questions: What are your thoughts regarding same-sex marriage?

  6. James Prather says:

    Dr. Brueggemann,

    Recently it’s been popular to lay out the entire Hebrew Bible in terms of the Combat Myth. A recent example is by Harvard-trained OT professor Gregory Mobley, “The Return of the Chaos Monsters – And Other Backstories of the Bible.” What do you think about this move?


    James Prather
    Abilene Christian University

    • gary conway says:

      Hello James
      My own research on the chaos myth and its importance for understanding the OT has been fruitful for my teaching in terms of binary opposition of chaos/order. We often experience creation and our lives as governed by forces of
      chaos, but the OT incorporation of this ancient myth is also a significant re-figuring of it in that Yahweh is the God of ordering (Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah), so that while our experience is existentially really we can join God in the project of bring order-or Shalom. That said, it is only one among many strands worth exploring in the rich variety of OT theology.

  7. John Clemens says:

    Jewish scholars have said that the New Testament is nothing more than a “Cliff’s Notes” of the Old Testament, or a metaphorical retelling of the old stories, or just a “summary of the law” or a reinterpretation of the law for the likes of Peter and Paul to broaden the scope of Judaism. Or is this all hooey? Do you believe the New Testament radically departs from the old? (you said we could ask anything).

  8. Amy says:

    What do you think is the most important ritual you have cultivated for yourself when it comes to writing?

  9. Anne Trudel says:

    I would love to hear your thoughts on how the Old Testament (besides Psalms) relates to our lives today. I frequently read selected verses from some of the Prophets, but other than giving us an overall picture of the history of the people of Israel (and of creation, of course), I find much of the OT off-putting and irrelevant to my life. I’ve tried reading through it and always get stuck around Leviticus. What takeaway can you give to average folks about the value of the Old Testament? (I feel almost sacrilegious for asking this question, because I know the OT is the major part of the Hebrew scriptures.)

  10. Kate Layzer says:

    What’s your take on the conquest passages (e.g. Numbers, Deuteronomy) where God commands slaughter? How can we faithfully read and reflect on such passages today?

  11. Alexander Holmes-Brown says:

    Dr. Brueggemann,

    What is the most interesting and provocative new horizon in OT studies that you’ve seen recently? For example, has there been a discovery or a new way of looking at things that is currently taking you by surprise? Where’s OT theology heading, for those of us who only find out much later?

    Sir. In my conservative Baptist church all the way in Australia, you’ve helped our dry bones dance. Even us youth, grown so tired of the word … but then you gave us new ways of looking, and new ways of listening, and it’s meant new life for more than a few of us. Thank you,

    Just noticed I asked the same question 3 different ways. For that too, thank you.


  12. Elder Thomas Bergel says:

    I was recently asked “Out of all of the HUNDREDS of religions, as a Christian, is there a chance that you’re wrong? If you answer yes, you’re agnostic. If you answer no, how can you be certain? Even if you SAW GOD, how can you be certain when people from OTHER religions say that they see their God too?” I’m afaid my answer was quite unsatisfactory. Can you provide an adequate answer?

  13. Simon Hall says:

    The narrative of the OT presents a God very much part of human history and affected by it, while its doxological and prophetic writings often present us with a God who is in control of everything and planned most of it from the beginning.

    Would this have been paradox to Jewish believers 2000 years ago as it is to us today? Is there any way to reconcile these different voices?

  14. John Estabrooks says:

    Dr B…you’ve spoken before about the believers ‘prophetic voice’, and I have found this to be both challenging and truth-full. I’ve encouraged others to read The Prophetic Imagination, but wonder if 1. there might also be others who write about this concept and 2. How you might direct a pastor such as myself who is seeking to introduce the concept and help his congregants find their own voices? Thank-you for your work on behalf of the Kingdom…

  15. Eric B says:

    You’ve been outspoken about the importance of your own therapy- do you see psychotherapy to be a spiritual practice? How do you understand it within the context of Scripture?

  16. What do you like and dislike about the positive psychology movement that emphasizes attributes like hope?

  17. Danny Mercer says:

    I see the value of Wisdom Literature, Poetry, and the Prophets. But, what benefit is there in the Historical Narratives of The Old Testament, other than putting me in a bad mood?

  18. Daniel Ortiz says:

    Dr Brueggemann,
    As a leading expert of the social-scientific criticism of the Bible, what is your opinion on the limits that social-scientific methods have in the study of the biblical narratives? As a sociologist I can only see that social theory and not empirical methods are applicable for this venture, which in turn implies that the term “social-scientific biblical studies” is not 100% correct.

  19. I am searching for language to address those who say they have no religious affiliation, but clearly have a spiritual quest. What language would you use to engage them in the Biblical story, especially the Hebrew texts?

  20. Jodi Koeman says:

    Dr. Brueggemann –
    I believe one of the most necessary gifts/skills we need and can offer our world is conflict resolution, not just to heal global, national and larger community wounds, but personal, local and smaller community hurts that we deal with on a daily basis. What are your thoughts on how to live this and biblical wisdom that offers some guidance. And particularly as a pastor, how do we practice this well in our faith community?

  21. […] website allows readers to post a question through April 29.  He’ll select a few to answer  Reading through the questions posted I was struck by the one that says “I find much of the OT […]

  22. Elijah says:

    Could you comment on issue like grace, unity of church & spiritual gifts?
    How does the community not downgrade nor cheapen these issues? What should we look out for?
    What , in your opinion, is the urgent message or messages to the church today?

  23. Kent Hodge says:

    Reading your book Journey to a Common Good, where you comment on Isaiah 53 not being Christological. This alerted me so I found more on your blog “A Story of Loss and Hope.” In your book you seem to be saying that taking an immediate Christological approach may lead to replacement theology of a sort. That is, using the text only as a proof text for a Gentile Jesus. However, what Isaiah is speaking about is the loss of Jerusalem and its restoration, or New Jerusalem, to serve the nations. It is not a replacement but a fulfillment of the Jewish hope and purpose in Exodus. Coming now to the Christological aspect we see this Jewish hope fulfilled through Christ, the one who identified with Israel’s loss and hope in his death and resurrection. Is this what you mean?

  24. Lisa Kelson says:

    Dr. Brueggemann,

    Would you please reiterate your opinion about recent times in ligt of the LGBT liberation movement and God? You had briefly stated (lecture, Pensacola) that God wants his disciples to include the ‘other’ and currently the other happens to be the LGBT community just as in the past it had been Gentile, Samaritan, poor, and women. How can I be a part of this welcoming movement?