The Old Testament Essay

892 words - 4 pages

Christian theologians have taken part in biblical scholarship for centuries on the qualities of the Old Testament that have changed western civilization forever. Walter Brueggemann is no exception to the enormous contributions theologians have made to these discussions in his respected work, The Prophetic Imagination. Here, Brueggemann proposes the social actions of the prophets Moses, Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, and Jeremiah as revolutionary insofar as each of their ministries provided a radical alternative for the social consciousness for the Hebrew people of their time given the context of their dominant social realities. These prophets provided a new social orientation for the Hebrews away from the power holders of their ever changing social hierarchy to that of a social life and though centered on their God Yahweh. Brueggemann explains this using Biblical citation while also applying this thesis to a theological critique of the modern Judeo-Christian faith and its preaching. Given Brueggemann’s analysis of the prophets’ social criticism, his argument is compelling and sheds new light onto how readers of the Bible ought to review the Old Testament.
Brueggemann begins his work by defining the sole task of prophetic ministry, which is meant to introduce an alternative social reality to the dominant structure followers are led to believe in at their own peril (Brueggemann p. 3). With Moses as the prime example of this prophetic movement in the book of Exodus, Brueggemann explains that prophets must criticize enduring social themes in ongoing struggles while energizing the public to believe in the alternative freedom of God. Moses in battling the pharaohs of Egypt in Exodus had to provide a differing social and political view to the politics of oppression with the legitimate order of their God Yahweh (Brueggemann p. 8). By changing the language of public discourse through doxology, Moses introduces the notion of God’s freedom to the Hebrew people, where God does not take sides so much as his people ought to be on his side amidst the static deities of ancient Mesopotamia (Brueggemann p. 10-11). Brueggemann cites multiple passages from Exodus to explain his view of combating political ideologies of the time.
What Moses and the prophets after him are trying to persuade the Hebrews away from is what Brueggemann refers to as the Royal Consciousness, which is defined as “leading people to despair about the power to move toward new life” and that the response of the prophetic imagination was to “bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God” (Brueggemann p. 59). This is the belief system Brueggemann applies to both the Egyptian Pharaohs in Exodus as well as the Kingship of Solomon in the Book of Kings. Prophets must adhere to introducing a...

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