On Reading Mistakenly . . . and Otherwise

A Response to Roland Boer, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015)

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
Walter Brueggemann Columbia Theological Seminary 701 S Columbia Dr, Decatur, ga 30030 USA

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This response to Boer’s fine study accepts that his analysis of the “sacred economy” of ancient Israel is fully on target. This response asks, in turn, “How did we learn to read the Bible mistakenly?” and “How do we learn to read it more honestly and knowingly?” Our long-term mistaken reading, I suggest, arises from our excessive commitment to positivistic history that caused a disregard of “on the ground” social reality. We may read more honestly and knowingly when we attend, as Boer shows us how to do, more fully to the insistent materiality of this society and of this textual attestation to that society. The “more” beyond Boer’s analysis includes a critical awareness of the claim in the text that the mystery of holiness pervades the text and its articulation of social reality, a holiness that cannot be legitimately disregarded in our reading.

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