Chosen? (Paper)

Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • 9780664261542
  • 5.5 x 8.5
  • 114
  • 31.25
  • Paper
  • 066426154X
  • 9/2/2015
  • 7-10 days processing
$ 18.00


"The conflict is only `seemingly' beyond solution, because all historical-political problems have solutions, if there is enough courage, honesty, and steadfastness."

In Chosen?, Walter Brueggemann explores the situation in modern-day Israel that raises questions for many Christians when reading biblical accounts of God's saving actions with the Israelites. Are modern Israeli citizens the descendants of the Israelites in the Bible whom God called chosen? Was the promise of land to Moses permanent and irrevocable? What about others living in the promised land? How should we read the Bible in light of the modern situation? Who are the Zionists, and what do they say?

In four chapters, Brueggemann addresses the main questions people have with regards to what the Bible has to say about this ongoing issue. A question-and-answer section with Walter Brueggemann, a glossary of terms, study guide, and guidelines for respectful dialogue are also included. The reader will get answers to their key questions about how to understand God's promises to the biblical people often called Israel and the conflict between Israel and Palestine today.


"Brueggemann offers an honest critique of a 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."
—Naim Ateek

Walter Brueggemann has done a great service to the Jewish people and to all who rely on the Hebrew Bible as a guide to life by demonstrating in this book that there is no straight line between these ancient holy texts and the oppression of the Palestinian people by an expansionist Zionist government in modern Israel. Christian Zionists are not serving the interests of the Jewish people or being loyal to God when they champion oppressive policies that violate the most frequent command in the Torah, namely variations on the Torah's command to "love the stranger/the Other," to extend generosity toward them, and to be sure that they are given equal treatment before the law. Brueggemann's carefully reasoned reading of the Bible should become a stumbling block to those who give blind support to the policies of the State of Israel toward Palestinians, policies which are destructive not only to the Palestinians but also to Israelis, setting them on a course that in the long-run will be destructive not only to those Jews who live there but also to Jews around the world who are increasingly being seen through the lens of Israel's arrogant policies toward their neighbors whom they have been commanded to love by the Torah. For those Jews who have turned away from Judaism because they see it increasingly becoming an idolatrous worship of Jewish nationalism, Brueggemann's book will be an important warning: don't abandon Judaism by allowing militarist readings of its texts to turn you away from the love-oriented tradition deep in Judaism that was embraced by the prophets, by Jesus and by the early Christians.

—Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine: A Quarterly Jewish and Interfaith Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation and Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy for Middle East Peace

Walter Brugggemmann has trained his hermeneutic skills, keen perception of history and deep faith on one of the most important human rights issues confronting the church and the world at large today. Brueggemann's greatness lies in his willingness, indeed his drivenness, to challenge accepted ways of looking at things -- always searching, always open to the new, inviting us, as he concludes in this book, to "differentiate between old mantras and urgent truthfulness." Brueggemann shines a bright light on the core issues - justice, decency, and faithfulness to the tradition in which he is so deeply rooted. This is a groundbreaking and terribly important book, because of the authority Brueggemann brings and because theological investigation is the key that will free Palestinians as well as Israelis from the current tragic impasse. "How do we read the Bible?" Brueggmann asks: "is it credible to make any direct appeal from the ancient promises of land to the state of Israel? We must, he declares, "have the courage to deal with the political realities without being cowed by accusations of anti-Semitism." The "exclusion of the other is suicidal policy," Brueggemann continues, asking those who support modern Israel's territorial claims to be "suspicious of any reading of the Bible that excludes the other" and challenging us to engage with him in bringing the ancient texts into a dialogue with history and with our present circumstances. We expect no less from Walter Brueggemann. As ever, Brueggemann's voice, his compassion, and his courage are a beacon, shining a light where it most needs
—Mark Braverman, author, Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land, Executive Director, Kairos USA.

Can the church discuss volatile issues? And among those topics, few are as volatile as the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In this small book, Walter Brueggemann serves as courageous prophet and irenic guide, providing us with summary positions on the scriptures, their application to modern Israel, and careful questions for group discussion. This may be the best guide yet to help the church talk about a matter of enormous importance for our generation.

—Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College & Graduate School and author of Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to Holy Land Theology.

For too long Christians were connecting biblical Israel with the State of Israel. For too long the human rights of the Palestinians were violated in the name of divine rights. For too long theological naivet´┐Ż about the chosen people had led to rejecting my own people, the Palestinians. I'm glad to see Dr. Brueggemann altering his own view. I commend this book to all those struggling with these questions and all who are concerned for peace and Justice in the Land called Holy.

—Dr. Mitri Raheb is the President of Diyar Consortium and of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem, as well as the president of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in addition to being the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. The most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is the author of 16 books including Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes.

This important volume could be a "game changer" for pastors, congregational study, denominational policy, the academy, religious journals, and hopefully elected officials who continue to fail the Palestinians, Israelis, and their own constituents with decades of misguided Middle East policies.

—Rev. Dr. Don Wagner, National Program Director, Friends of Sabeel-North America

It is an evenhanded effort to enable a fresh conversation among all of us who share his unequivocal commitment to the strength and security of Israel with an equal commitment to a viable, secure future for the Palestinian community.

—Rev. Vernon S. Broyles, III, Representative for Public Witness, Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Indeed God cares to see that everybody lives with dignity and security, and in a home. The promised land is indeed a land of promise, where God is honored and freely worshiped, and justice is followed, and God is pleased to dwell in. I thank God for courageous scholars like Dr. Brueggemann that read the Bible in the light of the Truth of God.

—Dr. Mary Mikhael is past President of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon and professor of Christian Education. She is the first and only woman to occupy such a position in the Middle East. She authored the popular 2010 Horizons Bible study, Joshua: A Journey of Faith, where she touches on many of these themes.

No matter what you think about who God's chosen people are, Professor Brueggemann is clear and starkly honest in his assessment of the untenable nature of the modern State of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. This book is a welcome refocusing of a faith lens that has been too often used in the past-especially in the context of the Israelis and Palestinians-to exclude and appropriate, rather than include and edify.

—Dr. Peter Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and author of Conflict and Cooperation: Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt.

This book is written for Christians and Jews who take seriously God's promises to Israel in the Hebrew Scripture but who are troubled by how contemporary Palestinians are being treated by modern Israelis. It is simply the best book on its subject that I have read.

—Dr. Duncan Hanson, area supervisor for the Middle East, Europe and India for the Reformed Church in America

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