Brueggemann, “God, Neighbor, Empire”

This month, the Baylor University Press releases “God, Neighbor, Empire: The Excess of Divine Fidelity and the Command of Common Good,” by Walter Brueggemann (Columbia Theological Seminary).  The publisher’s description follows:

Justice, mercy, and the public good all find meaning in relationship—a relationship 51jdybfimyldependent upon fidelity, but endlessly open to the betrayals of infidelity. This paradox defines the story of God and Israel in the Old Testament. Yet the arc of this story reaches ever forward, and its trajectory confers meaning upon human relationships and communities in the present. The Old Testament still speaks.

Israel, in the Old Testament, bears witness to a God who initiates and then sustains covenantal relationships. God, in mercy, does so by making promises for a just well-being and prescribing stipulations for the covenant partner’s obedience. The nature of the relationship itself decisively depends upon the conduct, practice, and policy of the covenant partner, yet is radically rooted in the character and agency of God—the One who makes promises, initiates covenant, and sustains relationship.

This reflexive, asymmetrical relationship, kept alive in the texts and tradition, now fires contemporary imagination. Justice becomes shaped by the practice of neighborliness, mercy reaches beyond a pervasive quid pro quo calculus, and law becomes a dynamic norming of the community. The well-being of the neighborhood, inspired by the biblical texts, makes possible—and even insists upon—an alternative to the ideology of individualism that governs our society’s practice and policy. This kind of community life returns us to the arc of God’s gifts—mercy, justice, and law. The covenant of God in the witness of biblical faith speaks now and demands that its interpreting community resist individualism, overcome commoditization, and thwart the rule of empire through a life of radical neighbor love.

Omaka, “The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970”

In October, the Fairleigh Dickinson University Press will release “The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970: International Human Rights and Joint Church Aid,” by Arua Oko Omaka (Federal University, Nigeria).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book focuses on the Biafran humanitarian crisis of 1967–1970 which generated a surge of human rights anxieties and attracted the attention of world humanitarian 9781611479737organizations. For the first time in recent history, different church groups and humanitarian activists around the world came together for the sole purpose of alleviating human suffering and saving lives regardless of theological differences, race, ethnic affiliation, nationality, and geographical distance. Despite their role in shaping the course and outcome of the conflict, most scholars of the Nigeria-Biafra War treat the humanitarian aspect of the war as a footnote, making it appear less important among other issues of interest in the conflict. Notable exceptions, however, include Joseph Thomson’s American Policy and African Famine, which focuses on American policy on the humanitarian aid, and Reverend Tony Byrne’s Airlift to Biafra.

This study underlines that the international humanitarian aid largely contributed to the internationalization of the war. The efforts of the churches from thirty-three countries which remain virtually unexplored was not just the first of its kind in the developing world but also the largest civilian airlift in history. While the paucity of scholarship on the humanitarian aspect of the Biafra war could be attributed to the newness of this field of enquiry, the increase in conflicts in different parts of the world has just opened humanitarian aid studies as a new frontier in academic study. This book is a masterful example of scholarship in this newly emergent field.