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?