Levi Jones: Why I Read Brueggemann
I first encountered Brueggemann’s work in my first year at Southern Nazarene University. I was reading his Interpretation Genesis commentary along with his cooperative work, A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. I also ran into several of his journal articles (most notably, “Myth of Scarcity, Liturgy of Abundance”).
That year was chaotic, to say the least. I had started a new job, a new school, and moved to a new place. On top of that, my parents were going through a nasty divorce and my sister found out she was pregnant, but it was with a very abusive guy.
Chaos abounded and life seemed little more than fragile porcelain locked in a room with a rampaging bull. Brueggemann’s writing came to life in those moments, reading about the God that creates space in the midst of chaos – a space where life was possible and full of potential. I remember that the Scriptures came to life in new ways through Brueggemann’s words. My small cosmos was enlarged. The god I had crafted was discarded for a God that was the Creator.
Since then, I have avidly read many of Brueggemann’s works: The Prophetic Imagination; Journey to the Common Good; An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible; Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church; Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide; The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word; Testimony to Otherwise: The Witness of Elijah and Elisha; Israel’s Praise: Doxology Against Idolatry and Ideology; and several of his journal articles.
In each of these works, I have found a tethered imagination that takes the old story and weaves it into the contemporary context, providing critiques of the culture that challenges and confronts those using power in manipulative ways and comforts the afflicted that bear such oppression.
Walter Brueggemann has been a needed voice for our time. He has helped revitalize Old Testament studies, while providing insightful critiques of the larger culture in light of that story. More importantly, his work has been in service to the Church, not simply an academic exercise.
Levi Jones is married to Becca. He has served as an associate pastor in various churches for the past seven years and holds a Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. He currently serves as an admissions counselor for Nazarene Theological Seminary.