Book Review – Walter Brueggemann’s “The Prophetic Imagination”

Brueggeman, an Old Testament Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur Georgia, challenged me to not just use the tools of Biblical Interpretation but to also use my imagination.  Brueggeman states his hypothesis early on, “The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us” (3).  Even so, it was a difficult book for me to read.  I came to the book with some intimidation and skepticism because of Brueggeman’s position as a well-known liberal OT scholar and the introduction of using imagination is new to me in Biblical studies.  However, as I continued to plow through I began to see the similarity of my own preaching style in what he calls prophetic imagination.  Because of the Fall (sin) we are in a state of hopelessness but Jesus is the answer to our hopelessness.  However, it is not enough to have a historical quest for Jesus.  God is active in the world and having a prophetic ministry is not just about emphasizing God’s wrath and judgment.  Brueggemann brings imagination to flow from the roots of the Text and includes in his liberating view of hermeneutics.  Royal consciousness unfolds as Brueggman traces God’s purpose from Moses through the kings, prophets, to Jesus.  There is a shift of consciousness because of the power available through Christ.  What I have gained most from this book is the need to stay focused on the Text (after correct methods of Exegesis have been taken) then to move to application with imagination of how the world could be as a result of the Text.  As a future doctor of the church I see myself operating in prophetic ministry to the point of proclaiming what social justice in the world can and should look like from God’s perspective.

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