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Praying the Psalms (1982)

af Walter Brueggemann

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471453,659 (3.75)2
Christian Nonfiction. Religion & Spirituality. Nonfiction. In this thoroughly revised edition of a classic in spirituality, Walter Brueggemann guides the reader into a thoughtful and moving encounter with the Psalms. This new edition includes a revised text, new notes, and new bibliography. "The movement and meeting of God with us is indeed a speech-event in which new humanness is evoked among us. Being attentive to language means cultivating the candid imagination to bring our own experience to the Psalms and permitting it to be disciplined by the speech of the Psalms. And, conversely, it means letting the Psalms address us and having that language reshape our sensitivities and fill our minds with new pictures and images that may redirect our lives." from Chapter 3.… (mere)
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I love the WB. But this book was more academic than the title had given me hope enough to make this purchase. A more apt title would substitute “Understanding” for “Praying.” Still good, just not as engaged with heart as with the mind... ( )
  nrfaris | Dec 23, 2021 |
A somewhat coherent collection of essays by Brueggemann on the Psalms and particularly how they can be used as prayers in a Christian context.

The five chapters of the book set forth the general theme: the Psalter and experience (both in coming to the Psalter and allowing the Psalter's experience be a guide), the nature of the language of the Psalms, the language as used in its place and time, the Psalms as Jewish, and a discussion of the nature of vengeance as expressed in some Psalms.

There's much to appreciate and as much to doubt and question in this work. Brueggemann appreciates the Psalms for what they are and as they are and thus has an important exhortation to Christians to make sure they understand the Psalms both in their context and in their rawness. Christians must first grapple with a more concrete understanding of the Psalms before freely spiritualizing them. He accurately contrasts the modern use of language in its rather sterile, just-the-facts-ma'am way of approaching speech with the more evocative and hyperbolic expression of the Psalms, and does well in illustrating how we would do well to broaden our horizons and allow the Psalms to speak through us and in us unto hope. He rebukes any movement to "domesticate" the Psalms, to accept only what is consistent with "bourgeoisie" equilibrium and otherwise leave out the moments of lament and all that is raw, visceral, and uncomfortable in the Psalms. Our faith should be challenged by the Psalms to be more robust, true to life as lived in this reality, and raw, as opposed to attempting to force the Psalms to fit our often nice, neat, domesticated faith. His discussion of vengeance in the Psalms is compelling; he is probably right that the only way forward with the appeals for vengeance, etc., is through them, not around them, so that we can work through those impulses for vengeance that we all have to get to where we should be in giving it over to God and to get to the point where we can seek their good and not their harm.

Yet there remains much that is questionable. While it is wise to understand the Psalms in their original Israelite/Jewish context(s), we cannot become Jews nor as Jews nor would it be wise to do so. He thinks it unwise to have a robust Christological emphasis in the Psalms as well as to proselytize among the Israelites, two premises quite impossible to reconcile with the theology of the New Testament.

Much of what Brueggemann has to say has value, but it would not be wise to read him uncritically. Nevertheless it is good to consider what he has to say about Psalms if one is engaged in any study of Psalms in any decent depth. ( )
  deusvitae | Aug 8, 2014 |
I very much wanted to love this book, but I found it to be more suggestive than well-argued. It reads more like an outline for a longer work. Brueggemann introduces ideas and points to places in scripture, but he doesn't present a compelling hermeneutic of the psalms. His main argument is that we need to pray the psalms with the rawness and openness with which they were written. He encourages readers not to skip, redact, or allegorize the psalms to make them more palatable. I wish he had spent more time discussing his idea of freeing our language to pray as the psalm poets prayed. Even more, I think his ideas about Christians in "Jewish" territory need much more clarification. He is aware of the pitfalls that making an argument like this are, but he never addresses them fully, or at least to my satisfaction. Overall, I'm glad I read this book, but it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. ( )
  wrmjr66 | May 12, 2009 |
Wow. Not to be read quickly, but prayerfully. ( )
  mister.x | Jan 8, 2007 |
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Christian Nonfiction. Religion & Spirituality. Nonfiction. In this thoroughly revised edition of a classic in spirituality, Walter Brueggemann guides the reader into a thoughtful and moving encounter with the Psalms. This new edition includes a revised text, new notes, and new bibliography. "The movement and meeting of God with us is indeed a speech-event in which new humanness is evoked among us. Being attentive to language means cultivating the candid imagination to bring our own experience to the Psalms and permitting it to be disciplined by the speech of the Psalms. And, conversely, it means letting the Psalms address us and having that language reshape our sensitivities and fill our minds with new pictures and images that may redirect our lives." from Chapter 3.

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