I have just finished listening to an excellent trilogy of lectures by the renowned Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann is an interesting character to say the least and he is far from evangelical in much of his view about Scripture. Nevertheless (or perhaps especially because of this) he is an impassioned lover of the church and one of the most imaginative interpreters I have ever heard or read. His interpretations of Scripture are always interesting and challenging. Though one may not agree with all he says one cannot help but be challenged by Scripture in Brueggemann’s interpretations. For this reason he is well worth listening to.

His series of lectures from Truett Seminary focus on the art of preaching, using the book of Jeremiah as both the source for his mining of information and his paradigm for sermons. It is both an excellent study of Jeremiah and an excellent study on homiletics. Here is a brief synopsis of the lectures.

  • Lecture #1: The first lecture is on sermon introductions. I found most helpful his discussion of the sermon as a confluence of the Word of the Lord (‘thus saith the Lord’) and the words of the prophet, or in this case preacher.
  • Lecture #2: The second lecture is on sermon conclusions. Brueggemann examines the various possible conclusions to Jeremiah and argues that good sermon conclusions are multiform and point towards a future. They are multiform because we do not fully know what the future holds, and they a forward pointing because the Bible and Christian faith is defined by hope.
  • Lecture #3: The final lecture is on the stuff in the middle, the sections between the introduction and the conclusion. Here Brueggemann notes that in Jeremiah as in life it is in the very depths that God comes and works ‘wonders’ and that it is necessary to wait in those depths.

I was extremely challenged to take my preaching so much more seriously in the future. I was also challenged to be even more serious with the text and even more serious in my ‘imagination’ (which, if you know anything about Brueggemann you know that is a buzzword for him). It was a fantastic lecture and I recommend it highly.

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