Walter Brueggemann is surely one of the most influential Bible interpreters of our time. He is the author of over one hundred books and numerous scholarly articles. He has been a highly sought-after speaker.
Brueggemann was born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1933. He often speaks of the influence of his father, a German Evangelical pastor. Brueggemann attended Elmhurst College, graduating in 1955 with an A.B. He went on to Eden Theological Seminary, earning a B.D. (equivalent to today’s M.Div.) in 1958. He completed his formal theological education at Union Theological Seminary in 1961, earning the Th.D. under the primary guidance of James Muilenburg. While teaching at Eden, he earned a Ph.D. in education at St. Louis University.
Brueggemann has served as faculty at two institutions in his career: Eden Theological Seminary (1961-1986) and Columbia Theological Seminary (1986-2003). He is currently William Marcellus McPheeters professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia.
Brueggemann’s primary method with the text is rhetorical criticism. Words matter to Brueggemann, and one can tell that by listening to him speak as he hangs on to particularly theologically significant words. His magnum opus, Theology of the Old Testament (1997), is a rhetorical-critical look at the Old Testament through the lenses of “testimony, dispute, and advocacy.”
Many have come to know Brueggemann through his book entitled The Prophetic Imagination, originally published in 1978. His best-known work, however, may be with the Psalms. Numerous church leaders have used his Message of the Psalms as a new way of organizing and processing the Psalms. He has been writing about the Psalms since 1982, and he continues to this day with a commentary published in 2014.
Church leaders find a friend in Brueggemann, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. His work inspires, energizes, and convicts, and he often makes time to interact personally with those to whom he speaks at large events.
He is a longtime St. Louis Cardinals/Browns fan.
Brueggemann and his wife Tia currently reside in Traverse City, Michigan.