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Walter Brueggemann: Journey to the Common Good


Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 125 pages, ISBN 9780664235161.

This excellent little book presents three addresses given by the author. This, together with the narrative theology represented, makes this work eminently readable and engaging. Brueggemann, a pre-eminent Old Testament scholar, is deliberately provocative whilst thoroughly rooted in contemporary Old Testament perspectives, bringing to the reader an insight of how the world of Biblical Studies can effectively and usefully address issues facing the church and our witness today.

In three chapters, Brueggemann looks at Scriptural narratives which engage the liberation from captivity in Egypt through to the Sinai visitation and instructions of God; the conflict between the revelation of God and the choices made by Israel in the succeeding years; then the challenges of engaging with God’s vision for reconstruction in the post-exilic period. Brueggemann takes each of these and, having identified the main narrative themes present, applies them to present issues and challenges affecting the North American context.

Two features of this book were of especial interest to the present reviewer. Firstly, Brueggemann expertly brings the narrative themes together and shows how his observations find expression in and through the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. In this way, he properly shows how the Old Testament narratives lead to their realisation in and through the ministry of our Lord. His skill in doing this is exemplary, and whilst the reader may not agree with all his final observations, the method which he employs in bringing the whole scope of Biblical testimony into play is, in itself, something for all to learn from.

Secondly, Brueggemann holds to an understanding of righteousness which, in the present debates between advocates of imputed righteousness and other forms, brings an important contribution. As Brueggemann puts it, ‘Righteousness concerns active intervention in social affairs, taking an initiative to intervene in order to rehabilitate society, to respond to social grievance, and to correct every humanity-diminishing activity’ (page 63).

This is a manageable piece of scholarship for the working pastor to digest, an informative as well as a challenging resource both for personal study and sermon preparation.

Reviewed by Jim Purves

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2011

About the Author: James Purves, Ph.D. (University of Aberdeen, Scotland), has been serving in pastoral ministry since 1980 and is presently Mission and Ministry Advisor to the Baptist Union of Scotland. He is a research tutor at the International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague, Czech Republic and author of The Triune God and the Charismatic Movement (Paternoster, 2004). His blog is

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