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The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word Hardcover – 26 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress (26 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800662776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800662776
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,144,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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," . . While he reads widely and is in knowledgeable, respectful conversation with a wide range of scholars, he always privileges the biblical text over any other. His reports of his skirmishes with Scripture never fail to stoke the imaginations of us preachers." -- William H. Willimon "From the Forward"

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alec Gilmore on 1 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Eleven essays and articles on preaching, previously published between 1990 and 2002, reflecting Bruggemann's scholarship, Old Testament specialism, readability, commitment to preaching and interpretation,demonstrating the value of a poetic imagination and the importance of maintaining the link between preacher, Word and the believing community. Readiers who covet good preaching will value it for themselves. Some may not wish to be reminded that good preaching has to be subversive and counter-cultural but may nevertheless welcome the insights of one who while remaining loyal to the Word knows how to handle it. In a culture where nothing can be taken for granted he uses biblical themes to call for for a change of emphasis, from proclamation to testimony, and a rethinking of the genre of the sermon, exchanging `pulpit as judge's bench' for `pulpit as witness box'. Very important for potential preachers and those who seek to coach them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Dark Chocolate for Exiles 7 May 2008
By Stephen W. Hiemstra - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those of us that eat books like food, some taste like straw; others taste like dark chocolate. Walter Brueggemann's recent book, The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentered Word, is the latter.

The plight of the modern Christian is best captured in an analogy to a dialog in Chaim Potok's classic book, The Chosen (Chawcett Books; Greenwich, CT, 1967) where the Hasidic rabbi Reb Sauders explains why he raised his brilliant son, Daniel, in silence. He [Daniel] was a mind in a body without a soul...A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer, and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul (pp. 263-64). We, moderns, taken together are brilliant but we lack compassion, lack soul. I find solace in Brueggemann's writing because he helps break the silence of God in this place.

Brueggemann's book is broken into eleven chapters:
1. Preaching as Reimagination
2. The Preacher, the Text, and the People
3. Ancient Utterance and Contemporary Hearing
4. An Imaginative "Or"
5. That the World May be Redescribed
6. The Social Nature of the Biblical Text for Preaching
7. The Shrill Voice of the Wounded Party
8. Life or Death: De-Privileged Communication
9. Preaching to Exiles
10. Preaching a Sub-Version
11. Truth-Telling as Subversive Obedience.
The introduction is aptly entitled: At Risk in the Text.

While the audience for this book is the preacher, the text is as much a work in hermeneutics as homiletics. How are we to read the text in view of how we read the times? In this sense, one can see the influence of Karl Barth and his newspaper in Brueggemann's writing as well as his references.

Brueggemann's hermeneutic is metaphoric in the rabbinic tradition. Brueggemann interprets poetically gliding seamlessly among the perspectives of the author, cannon, and reader. My fear as a reader is not that he has been faithful to the text. Rather, my fear is that my meager attempts to articulate such thoughts come across as one-dimensional because I am uncomfortable traveling in metaphor. How does a child of the Enlightenment (I am an economist) trained to think linearly express nonlinearity? I toy with thoughts that I have trouble reproducing.

The metaphor of the exile is most intriguing. I feel the marginalization of faith in an atheistic world. The moral drift in society threatens my sense of well-being. The loss of the sacred tears at my heart. The lament of exiles is my lament even if I find the words to express my thoughts hard to gather.

The subversive nature of the homiletic task arises only once the preacher realizes that he/she is not a guardian of the established order. What does it mean to be a modern? How does that differ from being a Christian? What does postmodern mean? How are we to deconstruct all this? Discomfort with one's role as a preacher comes easily to an inquisitive mind. Harder is the question of what to do about it. Fortunately, Brueggemann guides us down this road.

Brueggemann starts by observing that a close reading of scripture leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that God may be unhappy with us in ways that would disturb most American congregations. How does the preacher deal with this? Triangulate. Let the text speak for itself by interpreting it in view of the cannon. Stand as preacher with the congregation. Slice off a bite. Chew. Let the doxology and the traditions of the church play as background music. The holy café of the church provides many dimensions of thought and expression. Use them.

I find myself under the influence of Brueggemann's writing more and more. I suspect that you will too.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Understand the Journey at a Deeper Level 19 May 2010
By Matthew Morine - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a deep look into the process of post liberal preaching. It is not a how to on this style, but a explain of preaching or teaching the word that is decentering. The book is definitely not a easy read manuscript, not that the words are big, well some, and well you need to know some Hebrew as well, but mostly anyone can understand the communication. The book is scholarly articles that have been written by the author. The book is an enjoyable read because of the richness of the material. Over reviewing this book for this blog post, I realized I made a ton of notes. This means that I found the book wonderfully rewarding with material. There are nuggets of truth through this text. Of course, the read will not agree with all the statements, but there is some really deep material and perspectives. There is the idea of preaching from the outside, looking from the perspective of the sinned against, faith seeking sense-making, the debate of normlessness and conformity, and the desire to be a Babylon Jew. The book mostly deals with the Old Testament text and culture, which is a needed change from the ever constant focus on the New Testament text. If you are looking for some meat in the word, or for a deeper book that has some real calories, this is a good text for you. But if you prefer the devotional material only, that you have to constantly be dining on because it never fills you, this might be a little too much for you.
as always wonderful 9 Oct. 2010
By delhaven - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A theological challenge to us preacher types to actually preach the Word and not what congregatioons necessarily want to hear!!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Word Militant 19 Oct. 2010
By Ike - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is Walter Brueggemann at his best. It gave me a new understanding and appreciation for Old Testament scriptures and the society that produced those documents. I shall not read the OT again without remembering the information in this book. In particular, his comments about the character of the Hebrew language being one that allowed for wide interpretation, helped me to understand the whole concept of the Midrash and Kaballah.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Read for Serious Preachers 21 July 2008
By Anthony G. Maes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a scholarly work offering those who are engaged in preaching to further their craft. It is a perspective which enables the reader to seriously engage in the texts of scripture by exploring the implications and similarities to experiences of spirituality in the contemporary age of preaching.
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