As I have neared the end of my graduate program, my particular interests have begun to take shape, and this has provided me with a little more specific direction for my future studies. My interests are probably still broad and general, but one particular area has allowed several subjects to converge. The study of the Pentateuch has given me some footing to be able to think through the subjects of language, narrative, law, interpretation, ethics, and religious and textual development.
My intent was to complete my graduate program with a final project on OT legal motive clauses. It ends up that I will not need the additional hours to graduate. I had already begun my research when I learned it was unnecessary, so it is still a subject I would like to tackle and possibly produce a paper out of it.
All of that to say that as I began to study OT motive clauses, I discovered that I have some deficiencies in OT Theology and previous scholarship in the OT. I picked up Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, and I read his first two chapters which provide an overview of OT scholarship. These chapters were helpful in providing a basic foundation and springboard into OT studies. The first chapter addresses OT studies from the beginning to the end of what he calls “a generative period.” The second chapter addresses the contemporary situation.
In the first chapter that addresses the foundations of OT studies, Brueggemann scans OT scholarship from the Reformation and the Enlightenment until 1970, the end of the generative period. Throughout his survey, he highlights the influences of Julius Wellhausen, Karl Barth, Albrecht Alt, Martin Noth, Walter Eichrodt and Gerhard von Rad. He ends this chapter by looking at ideas that critiqued the stream of OT scholarship through von Rad and started the contemporary situation with new methods of interpretation like sociology and rhetorical criticism. Many of these scholars focused on the development of the text.
The second chapter looks at the contemporary situation, which has occurred in a post-modern and pluralistic context. There is a greater emphasis on the final product of the text and the role of things like genre, rhetoric, intertextuality, metaphor and imagination. When he surveys the scholars of this period, he divides them into two camps: centrist enterprises and efforts at the margin. The efforts of the centrists like Brevard Childs, Jon D. Levenson, James Barr and Rolf Rendtorff represent largely accepted positions that find continuity with the past. Scholars in the margin have brought new perspectives like feminist theology (Phyllis Trible), liberation theology (George Pixley) and black theology (Itumeleng Mosala).
That is a quick overview of the first two chapters. In future posts, I would like to look more closely at some of these developmental periods of OT scholarship, but I won’t make any promises. My intentions are not always carried out when things get busy and other demands monopolize my time.