Worship In Ancient Israel: The Essential Guide

Walter Brueggemann

Worship In Ancient Israel: The Essential Guide
Worship In Ancient Israel: The Essential Guide

Book Details

Categories: Israelite Religion

Book Information

Pages: 104
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Published: 2005
ISBN-10: 0687343364
ISBN-13: 9780687343362

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5 out of 5 based on 4 user ratings
In this Old Testament introduction, part of the Essential Guide series by Abingdon Press, Walter Brueggemann describes and explains the richness of the worship traditions of ancient Israel in a simple, yet compelling manner indicative of his poetic style. Though brief, this guidebook offers a description of the leading motifs of the Israelites worship traditions. Distinguished as both a theologian and an exegete, Brueggemann writes with a view toward relating the activities and expressions of ancient Israel to the life of the present church by drawing out the modern relevance of these ancient practices. The book is divided into five chapters: Orthodox Yahwism in Dialogic Modes; The Gestures of Worship and Sacrifice; The Utterance of YHWH in Worship; The Utterance of Israel in Worship; and Worship : Israel at Play. The first section is a basic introduction to the history of the study of Israelite worship. Among other things, Brueggemann highlights the impact that the cultural environment played in the structure and formation of Israels rituals and practices . Next, the nature of Israels worship is divided into three groups: the physical elements of worship (including feasts and the sacrifices), the creeds/expressions of YHWH, and those of Israel. Finally, the dialectical approach that Brueggemann is known for is highlighted in the concluding chapter. [Full Review]
Walter Brueggemann is once again to be praised for his highly accessible style and his ability to present the essentials of a theme of biblical theology in a brief but substantive introduction. As is characteristic of this distinguished Old Testament scholar, Brueggemann writes in an engaging style, always pointing to current theological and practical issues concerning the church in its ecumenical character. Hence, this book is primarily intended for a broad audience, but also the academic world of biblical studies may profit from Brueggemanns didactic summary of the themes, central texts, prayers, festivals, and practices of Israels worship. Brueggemann dedicates the small book to Patrick D. Miller, and he admits in the acknowledgements that the study is very much informed by and derivative from Millers two books The Religion of Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000) and They Cried to the Lord (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994). As the notes section (87100) indicates, Brueggemann has considered many other works as well, such as those by Roland de Vaux, Norbert Lohfink, Rainer Albertz, Erhard Gerstenberger, and Walter Harrelson. [Full Review]
This compact, new textbook is one of a series of well-written and informative Essential Guides, authored by known scholars in their respective fields. Walter Brueggemann is an acknowledged master of rhetoric and a seasoned biblical theologian. He applies a phenomenological model of religious experience to the analysis of worship in ancient Israel, capsulized in five chapters, where he speaks of Dialogic Modes, Gestures, Utterances, reciprocally, of YHWH and Israel, and Play, his name for an interactive game theory. This approach serves him well as a way of organizing the textual evidence so that its meaning comes through. The book is replete with illustrative citations from the Hebrew Bible in translation, which is all for the better. Brueggemann even provides some key Hebrew terms of reference in transcription, bringing the reader closer to the original text. The orientation of the series of Essential Guides thus far has been predominantly Christian, as indicated by such titles as Christian Ethics, Mission, and Church History, although there is now a guide by Jacob Neusner entitled Rabbinic Judaism. The scope of the subject matter may hopefully broaden in the future, but for the moment the present work poses an educational problem not shared by the other volumes in the series, to date. [Full Review]
Holding this small book in hands and shuffling through the pages you may ask yourself: How can the complex phenomenon of worship in ancient Israel be treated adequately on 104 pages? And, how then can the series it is part of be called Essential Guides? At least the latter question is answered perfectly by the series description printed on the back of the cover: The purpose of the Abingdon Essential Guides is to fulfill the need for brief, substantive, yet highly accessible introductions to the core disciplines in biblical, theological, and religious studies. Additionally , in terms of the audience addressed by this series, one notes that Essential Guides are written with the need of students foremost in mind, addressed to learners in a number of contexts. With this the basic layout and program of the series is circumscribed, and these two aspects must be the guidelines for any reviewer. Of course, at the same time certain limits are therefore set to the authors of the individual topical books, which can however mean a good chance for anyone who participates in the series to get rid of long-winded and complicated discussions. Thus, it might be much easier to come to the core of a problem without beating about the bush. [Full Review]

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