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Spirituality of the Psalms

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Using a model of orientation - disorientation - new orientation, Brueggemann explores how the genres of the Psalms can'be viewed in terms of their function. This results in fresh readings of these ancient songs that illumine their spiritual depth. The voices of the Psalms come through in all their bold realism.
Paperback, 64 pages
Published November 16th 2001 by Fortress Press (first published September 30th 2001)
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Jon Cooper
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So far, the best book I've read on the Psalms, from both an academic and devotional standpoint. Folks essentially write two kinds of books on the Psalms: Commentaries, that tend to be lengthy and hard to digest, or topical, like this or Lewis's meditation on the Psalms. But these topical approaches never quite manage to create a heuristic that is elegant; instead, they tend to be cumbersome or inadequate. Brueggemann's little book is supremely elegant. Well worth the read.
Andy Hickman
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Spirituality of the Psalms” by Walter Brueggemann
Insightful perspective of these ancient poems and useful for empowering groups and teams to be reflective and embrace transformation.


The basic movement in everyone’s life is:
• Firstly the move “into the pit”, when our world collapses around us
• Secondly the move “out of the pit” into a welcome place

Walter Brueggemann suggests that our life consists of moving with God in t
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: scripture, lament
Three stars, because the scheme of "orientation-disorientation-new orientation" is a helpful paradigm for thinking about the types of experiences contained in the Psalms. Only three stars, because I disagree fundamentally with the critical scholarship on which most of the author's work is built.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful little book that discusses how the psalms are characterized by themes of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation - as the cycle of spirituality and life overall as God intended.

The last chapter also makes a compelling argument of how the psalms also show the interaction the community and God as it faces questions of injustice which is also intricately bound with spirituality.

A little sample from the concluding chapter:

"When we pray these Psalms, in community or in private, we
Paul Seville
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Brueggermann brings the Psalms to life with his insightful material on orientation-disorientation-new orientation. Being a short abridgment of one of his larger works it is a great entry point for the everyday Christian but deep enough for the theologically trained.
Tommy Kiedis
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bible-study
Interesting. Insightful. Practical.

Spirituality of the Psalms is not an in-depth devotional commentary such as Spurgeon's Treasury of David or the work of Alexander Maclaren; nor is it strictly speaking an overarching exegetical work, whether that work be brief (e.g. Kidner) or extensive (e.g. Allen, Broyles, Perowne, or Wilson). Instead, Brueggemann helps the reader understand "that a major move of the Psalms is the move from an ordered, reliable life to an existence that somehow has run amok,"
Brueggemann argues that people treat psalms one of two ways: either they treat them devotionally and never critically analyze the genre, structure, etc. or they do treat them academically but never allow them to affect them spiritually. His goal in this book is to do both by providing a new paradigm to see the psalms.

Gunkel showed the world that the psalms fall into specific forms or genres. Mowinckel showed the centrality of the psalms in the cult. Westermann, sidestepping Mowinckel, updated Gu
Reina-Shay Broussard
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a rather small and short book, but I really struggled to read its academic and dense contents. I have an extensive vocabulary, but I find some academics write in a way that feels almost purposefully obtuse. The author seems to take a lot of words to say not very much. It’s very academic in tone, which seems to contradict the title’s spiritual intent. One of the more interesting aspects presented by the author is how the psalms are likely to be interpreted differently by Jews versus Chris ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
An overview of the Psalms explaining the different types. The last chapter on theodicy is a bit hard to grasp at first. This book is not an easy,quick read but did enjoy it as part of a Bible study course.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblical-studies

This is a must read on the subject of the Psalms and theodicy. The Psalms provide movement for us and the author values (alongside the Psalms) the times of suffering within this the artful process of life.
Sunday Oke
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Balanced view of the role of the Psalms in scripture taking into consideration the three phases of life I.e. orientation, disorientation and reorientation.

The book also considers the spirituality of God's Justice.

Comes highly recommended
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good read and the three categories of orientation, disorientation and new orientation are enlightening.
Brian White
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brueggemann captures the essence of the Psalms in this small volume and once again inspires and disturbs our equilibrium. When thinking of the Psalms it is hard not to think of Brueggemann.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Though brief, this book is filled with eye-opening insights about the psalter and its function in our history, liturgy, and prayer lives.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school
definitely felt the "disorientation".
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Definitely presented some interesting and thought-provoking concepts, not always written well/clearly.
This little book was both informative and enlightening. Though it doesn't go into any depth on any particular psalm, the way Brueggemann classifies the Psalms under the three themes of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation is important in its own right. Though all of the psalms cannot be pigeonholed to fit into one of these three models, classifying them in this way helped me understand the way Israel would have read them, seeing them rooted in a community of people and the worship of ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a great little book addressing the Psalms. His chapter in dealing with evil and theodicy was excellent. The book walks through Psalms of orientation, disorientation and reorientation. He attempts to give a framework to bridge the gap between dry but important scholarship with more devotional writing on the Psalms. It would be nice if we had a full on commentary doing that work.
Benjamin Williams
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read. one of those rare works that takes seriously insights from critical scholarship whilst speaking directly to the Christian experience. Will definitely be reading more from Brueggeman.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Returned to this book while preparing for a class. Some excellent points, including the argument for valuing psalms of lament (or psalms of disorientation, in Brueggemann's schema). See his "Praying the Psalms" for more on the concept of "from pit to wing". A very helpful little volume.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This took me a really long time to finish reading. Brueggemann breaks the Psalms into three major categories of orientation, disorientation and new orientation and then discusses what that looks like.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
An overview of the Psalms explaining the different types. The last chapter on theodicy is a bit dense.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
It made me understand and enjoy the psalms so much better
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, religious-theme
I had hoped to use this as a daily devotion. Parts of it worked for that. Other parts were too heady.
May 11, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a good (and brief) presentation of B's three-fold analysis of the Psalms. Problem is that there is little "spirituality" in this in the sense of the Cloud of Unknowing, etc.
Brooke Greenburg
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book has been a resource for me in times of disorientation. Wonderful work.
Heather Caliri
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love how Brueggemann connected the Psalms with justice, and how his schematic makes me think of my own cycles of faith and struggle.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
A classic. Very helpful.
Terry  Austrew
rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2014
Bill Nance
rated it it was amazing
Apr 06, 2014
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Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including Westminster John Knox Press best sellers such as Genesis and First and Second Samuel in the Interpretation series, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christ ...more

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