Brueggemann, Walter, “Chosen: Reading the Bible Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict
Walter Brueggemann, I understand is a respected and prolific biblical scholar. He sees himself fit to give us a commentary on what is going on the Middle gives as regards Israel and Palestine. provides candid commentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his new book. It is important to understand that what Brueggemann gives us here is his own perspective on the ongoing situation in the state of Israel. He explains how to read Scripture given the current context looking for the answers to these questions:
Was the promise of land to Moses permanent and irrevocable?
Is the state of Israel the same as the Israel in the Bible?
Who are the Zionists?
Now there are many who can take issue with these questions and those who do not believe in the Bible will not care anyway. Brueggemann says that we have not reached the point off not having a solution and he offers his own as a possibility solution. He says that “all historical-political problems have solutions, if there is enough courage, honesty, and steadfastness.” We certainly saw that with the deposition of Hitler during the Second Word War (that is meant to be a sarcastic sentence).
Brueggemann explores the situation in modern-day Israel that raises questions for many Christians who are easily confused when reading biblical accounts of God’s saving actions with the Israelites. The main problem with his analysis is the use of the word” chosen” as if to say gave the children of Israel special status or that he “chose” them. He asks if the citizens of Israel today are the descendants of the chosen people, and then asks if the promise of land to Moses was permanent and irrevocable? What about others living in the promised land? Does this in any way change the way we read the Bible?
People have been fighting over this for years yet Brueggemann addresses the issue in just four chapters looking at the main questions as they regard the Bible. He provides the reader with a question-and-answer section, a glossary of terms, study guide, and guidelines for respectful dialogue are also included. Even better yet, the reader will get answers to their key questions about how to understand and interprets God’s promises to the biblical people often called Israel and the conflict between Israel and Palestine today. The key words here are “often called”. It seems to me that since they live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship that they are indeed Israelis and therefore descendants of the biblical people who were once in the area. We can all agree that there is no easy solution to the problem and certainly not one as easy to solve as it is to write four chapters claiming to have the answers. The only answers we have are to the questions that Brueggemann asks and these are not the only questions that exist and not the only questions that stand in the way of finding a peaceful solution.
Brueggemann’s critique might be honest to him but I do not see the belief system that he writes about—the belief system “that reduces faith to a self-serving ideology and warns against a Christian reading of the Bible that reduces it to an ideological prop for the state of Israel”. Breuggemann does not critique the texts that are “used to justify the oppression of the Palestinians, nor offer a solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict based on justice and international law”. To find out what he offers, you just have to read the book. While it might be useful to Christians it does nothing for the Jews who are those involved in the conflict.