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Chapter 1. Scripture: Old Testament

Walter Brueggemann

Subject Politics
Religion » Christianity

Key-Topics Bible, scripture, theology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631223429.2003.00003.x


The actual historical practice of politics in ancient Israel, the community of the Old Testament, is in dispute among contemporary scholars; to the extent that the practice of politics is recoverable at all, it is unexceptional and replicates common practices of that general context. At the outset one must recognize that scholarship is unsettled and deeply divided over the question of historicity. Some scholars incline to take textual evidence more or less at face value; some find unintended traces of historical matters even in texts that are judged in substance to be historically unreliable; and some believe that the texts are belated ideological constructs almost completely void of historical value. In a brief essay it is not possible to adjudicate such questions in any detail. My own perspective is to accept as roughly reliable the self-presentation of Israel as a clue to its self-discernment, and to realize that even if this self-presentation is not historically reliable, it is in any case the preferred self-presentation with which interpretation must finally deal, albeit with great critical caution ( Gottwald 1979 : 785 n. 558; 2001). Given such a cautionary acceptance of the data about the political dimension of Israel'([a-z]+) life, we may conclude, not surprisingly, that Israel's political life was unexceptional and no doubt much like other political communities that shared ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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