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The prophetic imagination

by Walter Brueggemann

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1,2691011,330 (4.27)10
A classic text in biblical theology--still relevant for today and tomorrow.In this 40th anniversary edition of the classic text from one of the most influential biblical scholars of our time, Walter Brueggemann, offers a theological and ethical reading of the Hebrew Bible. He finds there a vision for the community of God whose words and practices of lament, protest and complain give rise to an alternative social order that opposes the totalism of the day.Brueggemann traces the lines from the radical vision of Moses to the solidification of royal power in Solomon to the prophetic critique of that power with a new vision of freedom in the prophets. Linking Exodus to Kings to Jeremiah to Jesus, he argues that the prophetic vision not only embraces the pain of the people, but creates an energy and amazement based on the new thing that God is doing.This edition builds off the revised and updated 2001 edition and includes a new afterword by Brueggemann and a new foreword by Davis Hankins.… (more)
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This is the best book I have ever read for understanding the prophets and prophecy genre in the Bible. Brueggemann points out that the work of a prophet is to criticize and energize. Provocatively, he opines that liberal Christianity is good at criticizing the Church and that conservative Christianity is good at energizing it. The two sides hold the related priorities of the compassion/justice of God and the freedom of God, respectively.

Moses is a prophet who calls out to the people of God in a way that re-imagines what that community could be. He is speaking out against the royal establishment as part of an oppressed people group.

In the period of Solomon, the leaders of Israel are well within the royal establishment. Thus the temptation is for the freedom of God and compassion for the marginalized to both be subverted into the interests of the King. The task of the prophet here was to break through the numbness of the royal consciousness. Lament is the primary tone of prophets toward the royal consciousness.

Israel is again the minority culture during the life of Christ, and in his prophetic role, Jesus counters the claims of the royal consciousness and stands in solidarity with the marginal. The resurrection announces the freedom, power, and justice of God.

The Church, likewise, must continually be a self-criticizing and energizing agent, by recovering its disruptive faith tradition and creating an underived community.

I highly recommend this book for those who want to understand the prophecy genre in the Bible. Also recommended for those take on a prophetic role (such as preaching), as the book points the way toward assisting other Christians in envisioning a more faithful community. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
brilliant. ( )
  shannonkearns | Sep 17, 2012 |
Did you ever suffer through a puzzle until you found that one piece you needed to get it done? This is like that. Excellent, excellent treatment of what might be termed the "city" or "royal consciousness" or the "political" and the believers role as a dissenter. This book more than any other has given me resources necessary to articulate criticism of the state and state churches, materialism, consumerism, and all the other isms castigating the world. It does this not by providing its own if different isms, but by exploring what the bible has to say of oppression and the role of the prophet in relieving oppression. Too much material in the bible is devoted to the role of the prophet as dissenter not to take Brueggemann's argument seriously. This is a well written sobering book. I highly recommend The Prophetic Imagination. ( )
  galacticus | May 29, 2011 |
“We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought.”

The Prophetic Imagination is about the intersection of courage and creativity necessary to be a civil dissenter. In the quote above, ‘royal consciousness’ may stand in for ‘capitalism’ or ‘consumerism’ or even just ‘ease of complacency.’ Prophetic figures step out – break out – in order to critique the oppressive but self-perpetuating systems of domination upon which societies are built. This is not without consequences. Like, for example, crucifixion.

This isn’t exactly a book about Jesus, nor really formal theology. But it does consider Jesus’ ministry alongside other social movements in order to think through the political responsibilities of Christianity today. Our namesake was a radical who led people into a compelling but terrifying alternative vision of destabilizing society, and was enough of a threat to the system to be executed by the state. And with this understanding of the origins of the faith, Brueggemann argues, Christians today should feel compelled to face ongoing injustices even (especially!) at the expense of upsetting comfortable but corrupt regimes. ( )
1 vote the_awesome_opossum | Mar 18, 2011 |
I know I like Brueggemann, but I'm still working on getting into his writing. ( )
1 vote tkniffin | Feb 2, 2009 |
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For sisters in ministry who teach me daily about the power of grief and the gift of amazement.
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A classic text in biblical theology--still relevant for today and tomorrow.In this 40th anniversary edition of the classic text from one of the most influential biblical scholars of our time, Walter Brueggemann, offers a theological and ethical reading of the Hebrew Bible. He finds there a vision for the community of God whose words and practices of lament, protest and complain give rise to an alternative social order that opposes the totalism of the day.Brueggemann traces the lines from the radical vision of Moses to the solidification of royal power in Solomon to the prophetic critique of that power with a new vision of freedom in the prophets. Linking Exodus to Kings to Jeremiah to Jesus, he argues that the prophetic vision not only embraces the pain of the people, but creates an energy and amazement based on the new thing that God is doing.This edition builds off the revised and updated 2001 edition and includes a new afterword by Brueggemann and a new foreword by Davis Hankins.

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