"Brueggemann, for decades one of our leading interpreters of Jeremiah, here conducts a homiletical experiment, considering how the book preaches and what it says to the preaching task. The experiment is a resounding success as Brueggemann, attentive to how Jeremiah is a "multivoiced meditation" on the abyss of exile--an extended Holy Saturday--considers three traumas pertinent then and now: the loss of Jerusalem, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the demise of American chosenness. Brueggemann may call his work an "old-fashioned reading" of Jeremiah, intended "to serve an old-fashioned notion of preaching," but do not be fooled. In his hands, everything old is new again!"
Preeminent biblical scholar and preacher Walter Brueggemann says the book of Jeremiah is not a sermon, but it does sound the cadences of the tradition of Deuteronomy that serve as sermons--that is, as expositions based on remembered and treasured tradition. In this volume, Brueggemann conducts an experiment in homiletics. He wants us to wrestle with the question, What if we allow the canonical shape of the book of Jeremiah to instruct us concerning the shape and trajectory of the sermon? More specifically, he wonders: What if the book of Jeremiah is treated as a long sermonic reflection about the traumatic events that led to exile and displacement for the people of Judah? Why did it happen? Is God faithful? Does God punish? Is there any future?
This theme and these questions can also be related to the crucifixion of Jesus and the displacement experienced by his followers. Brueggemann extends his wonderment further to the displacement experienced in modern American culture, as events jolt our notions of exceptionalism and chosenness. All of those same propensities were at work in ancient Israel in the wake of the displacement of Jerusalem, a wake given voice in the book of Jeremiah.
Brueggemann analyzes the various parts of the sermon through the organization of the book of Jeremiah, looking at Introduction, Body, and Conclusion, comparing them to Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday. The task of the preacher mirrors the task of the prophet who seeks to pluck and tear down, as well as to plant and to build. The preacher cannot, as he says, participate in a cover-up. The preaching task requires honesty about what God requires and a clear proclamation of what God has done and will yet do.
- Publisher Fortress Press
- Format Paperback
- ISBN 9781506466019
- eBook ISBN 9781506466026
- Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
- Pages 200
- Publication Date November 3, 2020
Brent A. Strawn, professor of Old Testament and professor of Law, Duke University
"Turning to the Prophet who speaks most directly to our contemporary moment, this master exegete demonstrates what the church has largely forgotten over the last century: Imaginative, biblically shaped preaching is the most consequential form of Christian utterance. Attentive to Jeremiah, Jesus, and Paul, Brueggemann offers practical guidance for preachers desperate to speak the truth and the hope that matters."
Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School and author of Opening Israel's Scriptures
"Walter Brueggemann's Preaching Jeremiah is as daring, imaginative, and counter-cultural as the text it explicates. This "experiment in homiletics" will delight not only preachers and poets but any serious student of the Bible and practitioner of social justice."
Louis Stulman, professor of religious studies and author of The Prose Sermons of Jeremiah