Because I read this edition from 1977, my blog may not completely apply to this 2002 revision: The Land:Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith – Overtures to Biblical Theology
Wherever you are on this planet, actual earthly turf lies under your feet, forms the foundation of your house, your workplace, of everywhere you venture. For every one of us, "land" carries heavy literal and symbolic connotations that include dirt, soil, ground, territory, settled, belonging, rooted, secure. In this second decade of the twenty-first century we've recently experienced a major economic crash followed by far lower reevaluation of residential – and other – real estate, precipitated by people who imagined inalienable land could be "owned" as property and turn big profits. Families still get relocated by governmental and other entities from storied places into historyless spaces. We've been agonizing over seemingly endless, unstoppable atrocities against the land committed by Monsanto as well as by other huge agribusiness and manufacturing conglomerates. Especially considering those events, you need to read and take to heart this book by Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann as he helps clarify and untangle law, gospel, history and hope!
If you've studied scripture even minimally, you know Egypt "...is not the place!" The Exodus wilderness on the way to the land of promise was not "the place," either. Unlike with those managed, controlled, counted bricks and bread under Pharaoh, in the wasteland of Israel's Sinai wanderings, human administration and management of anything (let alone land and its harvests) was impossible, so with manna and quail from the sky, with water from the rock, Moses' people experienced wildness as a life-giving, life-sustaining gift from Yahweh. For Israel, land would remain gift if they would continue trustfully obeying. Likewise for us, land will become gift if we will obey and trust.
In the Hebrew Bible there is no timeless space and no spaceless time; it all is "storied place." Brueggemann reminds us as "fructifier of the land" Yahweh is a fertility god who fully participates in the agricultural cycles with earth, farmers, vintners, and crops that typically we experience as the [almost] endless recycling of the same events. Yahweh also is Lord of history―not one who protects and assures continuities in our lives, but instead works the brand-newness of political, historical, social, and individual resurrection out of sometimes unimaginably radical discontinuities. Yahweh is Lord of the Lands and Lord of the Commands―a God who keeps covenant forever, who calls us to covenant-making, and covenant-keeping. A God who calls prophets to be a voice for the land and for the people.
Although The Land relates mostly the topic of turf and dirt, gift, obedience, and community in the Old Testament scriptures, the author also brings some possible Christological interpretations of the OT texts along with land-focused insights from NT gospels and Pauline epistles (particularly Romans 4 and Galatians 3 and 4). Remember, you simply cannot empty Abraham of land! Just as in Hebrew Bible times, during the earthly ministries of Jesus of Nazareth and of the early church, we need to be about the covenantal inter-responsibility of speaking and answering, call and response, amongst Yahweh, people, and land. "Listen to the voice and the claim of the land." WB reminds us scripture emphasizes not emancipation but rootage (you already know Paul of Tarsus' eleutheria / freedom ain't no emancipation proclamation!), not meaning but belonging―we live baptized into Christ, into the people of God in every time and place.
Blogger note: the inevitable outcome of living as covenantal, creation-care people is that we'll become an inclusive, welcoming, justice-filled Eucharistic community that displays the exhibition of the reign of God to the world.
my amazon review: land as gift, promise, and hope