Chosen? by Walter Brueggemann
"Do not cross this meadow unless you can do it in nine seconds; the bull can do it in ten.” This apocryphal sign on a British footpath captures something of the risk Walter Brueggemann takes in traversing the terrain of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in so few pages. This readable book is a layperson’s introduction to the hermeneutical issues involved in using the Bible to make sense of tension in the Near East. Theological ambiguities about the status of Israel that Brueggemann identifies will leave some readers unsettled, but the way he frames questions and draws on scripture makes this an excellent resource for the church. Pounding hooves will be in hot pursuit.
The pursuing bulls in the Western church today include a boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement directed against Israel because of settlements in the West Bank. They also include Christians United for Israel, which seems ready to endorse anything Israel wants. Brueggemann mentions neither; rather, he invites us to stand back and consider underlying biblical polarities that should frame our thinking.
As a frequent traveler to Israel-Palestine, I welcome this volume because of inner turmoil I always feel in the Holy Land. The unimaginable suffering of the Jewish people, especially in the 20th century, makes me grateful that Jews have security in their homeland. I feed on the Hebrew scriptures. But it is painful to watch Jewish people, whose spiritual and cultural heritage I honor, systematically deprive Palestinians of what seems to be their rightful territory in the West Bank.