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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review: "The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann"

TITLE: The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann
AUTHOR: Walter Brueggemann
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, (392 pages).

Walter Brueggemann is one of the most imaginative preachers I know. This book is proof of that. As an Old Testament professor, he not only teaches well, he writes and preaches well too. He is also most famous for his work on "Introduction to the Old Testament" and "The Prophetic Imagination."

In this collection of sermons, Brueggemann pulls together selected sermons form as far back as the Vietnam War era in 1972. He adapts  the lectionary creatively especially on special occasions like Easter and Christmas. He speaks at chapels, conferences, and in churches of various theological persuasions. Typical of Brueggemann, he weaves in both Old Testament and New Testament texts, always careful of its genre. At the same time, he bridges the ancient contexts and contemporary culture with stories, images, illustrations, and his personal life. It is imagination at Brueggemann's best.

What I like is the way Brueggemann condenses his main idea into a very creatively titled sermon. For instance, in "The Strong God with Two Weak Verbs," Brueggemann combines his understanding of the nuances of Hebrew language, the relationship between God and Israel, and illuminates the Hebrew clearly for the English speaking public.  In that sermon, he provides short and succinct application for a busy and worrying world.

"We shall not be good servants of covenant until we ourselves are rescued exiles. I suggest that before you worry about how to speak these verbs, hear them." (32)

One of my favourites is his introduction of the 'Sabbath Voice' which he describes as:

"Humble and gentle of heart, making no demands." (294)

I believe this is an important book for preachers and teachers to learn from. The modern church tends to be one that is lopsided toward New Testament preaching. As a result, the Old Testament has been left untouched, especially the prophetical books. Thankfully, Brueggemann bucks the trend. He shows us the way forward, that the whole Bible is to be preached, not just the New Testament part. By presenting the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament as God's Word through teaching, preaching, and writing, listeners will be blessed.


Ratings: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book has been supplied to me free by Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The review above is mine.

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