The difficulty in the Book of Isaiah Part 4

Anytime one seeks to understand the Old Testament the name Walter Brueggemann is surely to come up. I don’t agree with him but it is important for us to understand what he is saying.

The effort expended by the church concerning the difficulties of Isaiah continue to this day, when the church finds itself in the postmodern period. Childs chose to focus on one individual to discuss the viewpoints and attitudes of many postmodern theologians concerning not only Isaiah but the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Childs states, “For our immediate concerns, Walter Brueggemann (b. 1932) is the most important example of an interpreter of the book of Isaiah who is an avowed Christian theologian and consciously identifies himself as a postmodern interpreter.”[1]

Brueggemann makes it plain where he stands: “This means, most likely, that there can be no right or ultimate interpretation.”[2] Childs points to several statements detailing Brueggemann’s position: (1) There is no one correct interpretation of an Old Testament text, (2) there are limitless possibilities and potential that can be evoked by creative imagination, (3) Brueggemann harshly rejects traditional Christian interpretations, and (4) there is nothing in the Old Testament literature itself that can be objectively claimed to be Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. Childs summarizes, “Finally, Brueggemann considers any overarching meta-history such as Paul’s, or a trajectory of unfolding clarity in revelation, is rejected as unwarranted and offensive.”[3]

As one seeks to investigate the second half of Isaiah there must be an awareness that throughout the centuries difficulties have existed. Childs provides a concluding remark concerning his viewpoint versus that of Brueggemann’s, “With much sadness, I am forced to conclude that Walter Brueggemann’s postmodern interpretation of the Old Testament offers a serious break with the entire Christian exegetical tradition that I have sought to pursue from the earliest period to the present..”[4]

[1] Ibid., p. 306.

 [2] Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), p. 63.

[3] Childs, pp. 306-308.

 [4] Ibid., p. 309.




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