What ONE book has most shaped your perspective on the Bible . . .

and why?

I often find myself looking over my books and reflecting on how influential (or non-influential) a given volume has been for me.  There are a handful to which I continually return (see the list on Genesis volumes HERE and HERE).  But, if pressed, what single volume has most influenced my reading and perspective on biblical studies?  I have it narrowed down to two, for various reasons, yet since I have asked for ONE book (and I’m not about to break my own rules . . . . mn genoito!), I will go with . . . . . .

Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy.  Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.

Many won’t be surprised of this choice.  Yes, I admire Brueggemann’s work very much for its honestyin approaching the text and its tensions.  I also have a deep respect for Brueggemann’s desire to connect the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to the Christian faith and make it relevant for contemporary life.  No small task!  But this wasn’t about what I admire or respect, it’s about what has shaped my perspective on the biblical text.

To say Brueggemann has been formative for me would be dishonest.  I did not read the volume in full until a few years ago, and I recently re-read it.  But he has given articulation and precision to how I approach the biblical text as a literary and, above all, theological text with God as the central, not an ancillary, character.  Methodologically Brueggemann and I are quite close, though my focus is more of the Robert Alter literary persuasion (and, not incidentally, Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative was the other volume I was leaning towards . . . . ) and less the metaphorical/testimony model of Brueggemann.

So, what’s your one book, and why?


3 thoughts on “What ONE book has most shaped your perspective on the Bible . . .

  1. Patrick George McCullough says:

    I honestly can’t think of just one that has had that kind of profound effect on me. Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in I Peter by David L. Balch. That was the first critical scholarship I ever read and had a profound influence on me, not that it undergirds my entire hermeneutic or anything. But very important for me.

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