The Christian gospel, says Walter Brueggemann, is too easily preached and heard. Too often technical reason and excessive religious certitude reduce the gospel to coercive, debilitating pietisms that mask the text’s meaning and freeze the hearer’s heart.
With skill and imagination, Brueggemann demonstrates how the preacher can engage in daring speech—differently voiced and therefore differently heard. This speech, as suggested by the Bible itself, is “poetic” speech, enabling the preacher to forge communion in the midst of alienation, bring healing out of guilt, and empower the hearer for “missional imagination.”
As an alternative to theological/homiletical discourse that is moralistic, pietistic or scholastic, Brueggemann proposes preaching that is artistic, poetic, and dramatic. The basis for the 1989 Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School, Finally Comes the Poet is a unique and transforming guide for powerful preaching.
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Here we have what we have come to expect from Walter Brueggemann—a fired imagination, harnessed and disciplined. He always respects the integrity both of the biblical text and of the listeners, but he will not allow them to stay apart. He listens to the Scripture and the human condition, and then develops a conversation between the two. This conversation is not only theologically solid but also lively and vigorous. Brueggemann here offers what the gospel itself offers, and that is an alternative world in which to relate to others and in which to function.
—Fred B. Craddock, professor of preaching New Testament, Candler School of Theology
Walter Brueggemann through his teaching, lecturing, and writing, has effectively demonstrated the significance of the Old Testament for our fractured world today. Recognized as the preeminent interpreter of the ancient texts in relation to questions posed by a variety of academic disciplines, he has shown the way toward a compelling understanding of the major components of the faith and life of ancient Israel, especially its Psalms, the prophets, and the narratives. His award-winning Theology of the Old Testament quickly became a foundational work in the field.
Brueggemann, who holds a ThD from Union Seminary, New York, and a PhD from St. Louis University, is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. He was previously professor of Old Testament at Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis. His many Fortress Press books, including The Threat of Life: Sermons on Pain, Power, and Weakness, exhibit a fecund combination of imaginative power, sound scholarship, and a passion of justice and redemption.