Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Brueggemann audio online

Chris Tilling has shared with us the impact that listening to a Brueggemann lecture on a bus one day had on his theological development. In the comments, links are provided for the Totally Unofficial Walter Brueggemann Page, a great site full of useful links (Brueggemann has even written a few blog posts in his time!). I particularly appreciate blah blah blah's making us aware of a series of online audio material held at a Presbyterian church, in which Brueggemann takes us through the major parts of the Old Testament.

I was a major Brueggemann fan for about three years, from when I read him as part of a post-modern/N.T. Wright circle in Paris to when I started reading Childs last August. There was so much that excited me about these new approaches, especially as they helped me respond to questions that arose in my cultural anthropology degree which conservative Evangelicals were not able to answer. And yet, as always, with each inch that my horizen shifted in one direction, gaps started appearing in another corner. Those gaps remained unsolved until I started seriously trying to figure out Childs, who is the first scholar I have come accross who has dealt with the issue of theological exegesis so comprehensively. I haven't figured out all the answers (of course!), but I feel a Childsian "canonical approach" is so much more substantial than Brueggemann's post-modern approach. The fact that Brueggemann has misrepresented Childs in a number of publications doesn't do much to win my sympathy (but then again, who hasn't done that concerning Childs?).

I've dealt fairly intensively with the Childs vs Brueggemann question over the past year, particularly in dialogue with Stephen, a keen Brueggemanian, and have collected my posts together here.
Update: Those interested in free online audio introductions to the Old Testament, I'd highly recommend the detailed one given by Christine Hayes at Yales University, available on iTunes. I comment on and link to it here, with an additional comment here.
Update 2: Thanks againt to becoming Peresh for another link to a sermon by Brueggemann on Isaiah and the mission of the Church. There are also a number of other sermons by, e.g., Brian McClaren and Steve Chalke (the only other names I recognise). When will I have time to listen to all this?!


Jason Button said...

Hey, thanks for the post. I've been reading OT Theology (Merrill, Waltke, von Rad, Eichrodt, and Brueggemann; I don't yet have a copy of Childs) and have really enjoyed portions of Brueggemann's work. I am predisposed to reading him with a grain of salt; his admitted liberal agenda has its obvious pros and cons. Wanting to learn more about his approach, a couple weeks ago I downloaded all of the lectures from the site you noted and listened to them as I traveled. I was especially dissatisfied with his perspective on the book of Job; however, I gleaned a lot of help from these lectures.

I'm glad that audio lectures are becoming more and more readily available. I have found that there is a lot missed in reading that is illuminated verbally.

Thanks, also, for sharing your work on Childs, et al. I've not been able to keep up with all of it, but what I've read here has been helpful.

Levi said...

I'm probably most fond of brueggemann's "The Prophetic Imagination", and have actually used that in teaching jr. high. While the language needs to be morphed quite a bit, Brueggemann's "criticize and energize" is actually understandable at that level.

While that may not seem that strange, this conversation provided the opportunity to explain the prophets as more than "fortune tellers predicting Jesus". Which at least gives an OT geek like me a little bit of hope.

I'm actually thinking of taking Brueggemann's trial metaphor used throughout TDOOT when I teach a series on the Bible to them in the spring. We'll see how that goes :)

Phil Sumpter said...

Sorry about the late reply, guys.

Thanks for the feedback Jason. Glad you find the Childs posts helpful. Interesting that you find listening supplements reading. I'm not too sure (for myself, of course!). I'm currently listening through the Pope's Jesus book and I find it hard to analyse the material. In a book a can work out chapter structure etc. Having said that, the fact that I always listen to it while doing something else probably doesn't help much. Perhaps certain portions stick better in my memory due to the particular intonation of the reader ...

If you're into audio, I've updated my post with a link to a good audio introduction to the OT.

Levi (when will you actually become Peresh?),

I read "The Prophetic Imagination” about six years ago, so I can no longer remember what he wrote. I read it as I was just discovering Brueggemann, N.T. Wright and post-modernism as something positive, so I lapped it up with enthusiasm. I think Brueggemann is very creative and intelligent and has a lot to offer in helping us pad out our understanding of the OT both as an ancient document and as sacred scripture. I just wouldn't take his approach to be normative, especially not his trial metaphor. Childs lambasted that as creating a “false dichotomy” that was almost gnostic (I'm not sure if the second accusation is fair). I commented on this in diologue with a Brueggemannian, first here and then here.

Jason Button said...

Thanks for the link to the lectures by Christine Hayes and to your comments (also Chas. Halton's comments). I made an 8 hour trip last weekend and am getting ready to do it 2 more times this weekend. I've made it through the first 8 or 9 lectures and hope to listen to more this weekend.

Regarding my comments on listening to audio, I should clarify that I'm not a fan of audiobooks either. The kind of supplemental listening I am thinking of is, for instance: Reading Brueggemann and then listing to him lecture. I think that it is true that people express themselves differently when they speak as when they write. Oral qualities such as tone, pace, and volume add meaning that is sometimes missed in literature.

This isn't always possible, but when I review books I try to search for any video or audio of the author. I am glad that the internet is allowing access to more and more audio.

Phil Sumpter said...

I'm totally with you there, Jason. I'm still trying to find audio material of my hero Brevard Childs. I don't think any exists.

I have a label "audio." Click it and you'll find tonnes more.

Levi said...

I'd imagined that we are both biased towards one of the two. You are clearly a Childs fan, a "Childsian", if i remember correctly. Many of my theological understandings, on the other hand, are greatly indebted to the works of Brueggemann (although Childs is a factor; albeit a much smaller role, but still a factor).

I can't respond to the entirety of your comments now (the wife is saying "go to bed"), but I don't have a problem with the "anthropocentric readings" to which Brueggemann is placed. To me an anthropocentric approach is more organic, as it rises out of interpretive circles which seek out divine intervention through lament. To put it briefly, it is through lament, that humanity critiques its own context, and proceeds to urge God to act within God's freedom. From this lament, the church can find vision based on the experiences of the past (as witnessed in the Scriptures), yet still have the imagination and humility, and hopefully the realization, that God will continue to act in that freedom.

A theocentric approach seems to place, in the simplest of understandings, would seem impossible, as the focus could only be on what has past and therefore expectation places boundaries on the freedom of God which is silenced by the lenses of those attempting to be theocentric.

However, to be fair, an anthropocentric approach, has to understand the universality of its nature, in that God's freedom extends past one side of the street. Therefore, it is not the event which is anthropocentric, but the testimony.

...i better to go to bed, before the wife divorces me.

but, as far as me "becoming-peresh". I'll answer this here, because I've been asked a few times about the name. I'm assuming your Hebrew skills have lead you to a meaning of peresh. I tried to make that my name for blogspot, but someone had already taken it (my last blog under a different server was "skubalon", or something very close to that...and no, I'm not obsessed with poo.)

Therefore, it offered me suggestions of a "related" name, and it said, "becoming-peresh". At the moment, it seemed funny that one would become "crap" (using my "pastor language"). I didn't really think that i would have to keep that url, and by the time i wanted to change it, i had too many people who already had that url linked or bookmarked.

Since this post is longer than "peresh" now, I'll obey the wife and go to bed.

I'll try to remember to look for your response, but it will be hard to remember because the date of this post is quite old now. Feel free to email me a response, I believe my email is on my blog.

grace and peace,

Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Levi,

sorry for the late reply. Easter has been busy, as usual.

I think you have a different understanding of the meaning of anthropocentric/theocentric than I. I outlined the difference in my post Ecclesial Context: Brueggemann vs Childs.

Interesting thoughts about lament being our basic theological starting point. I think that lament ought perhaps to be seen in dialectic with doxology. I tend to see most things as dialectical these days.

Hope your wife has graciously forgiven you. Wives have a tendency, I think, to remind us about what really counts in life!'