Q&A with Brueggemann #4: History and “Reportage”


QASimon Hall asked:

“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 2,000 years ago as it is to us today? Is there any way to reconcile these different voices?”

Brueggemann’s response:

“I think the prophets are acts of imagination outside the box. They are not reportage or description, but imagination. They do not portray God as ‘in control of everything,’ but a lively engaged character. I am sure that establishment types resisted such imagination because it challenged one-dimensional control. No, I think there is no chance of reconciling voices; they are all there and want to be heard. They are ready for such on-going contestation.”

On a related noted, Danny Mercer asked:

“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?”

Brueggemann’s response:

“The ‘historical narratives’ are not reportage. They invite us to reread our past and present as though it were occupied by a real character and effective agent. The ‘as though’ challenges all of our other forms of imagination that we uncritically take as normative.”

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