The Prophetic Imagination

 

Brueggemann has, over 30 years, reviewed, revised and edited his conception of the mind, thoughts and subsequent writings of the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures. Brueggemann says that the interface of 'prophetic' and 'imagination' has turned out to be a most important one, although a pure happenstance, the title was thought of at a late stage of publication. It was, however, a most fortuitous choice. He has seen more examples of change shown in prophetic utterances in the last 30 years than in the approximately 1,500 years that it took 40 authors on three different continents to pen or stylus the approximately 780,000 words in the Bible. He has seen prophetic liberation theology, prophetic feminist theology, and then postmodernism when it became hard to define truth; fortunately Pontius Pilate had long gone.

 

Imagination is often thought of as having something to do with stories for children, something that isn’t true. Prophetic imagination employs that distinctly adult way that we image everything in every day life. It also applies to concepts that cannot be seen. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that 'imagination is more important than knowledge'. As Christians we need to know God and maybe even use our imaginations to hear his voice or see him in other people or situations. We need our imaginations to fully partake of Christian experience and living.

We all know what a prophet is, don’t we? Well, maybe Brueggemann would like to qualify the generally accepted definition. In a most telling interview with Brueggemann in February 2012, the American television journalist Krista Tippett who hosts a programme called ‘On Being’, covering religion, spirituality and ethics, live-streamed a video of the conversation that became the most-watched session ever shown by the network. Krista said, he helped her to understand that part of the prophet’s power is ‘to wield language poetically rather than stridently. Beginning with the words they choose, they transcend ideological splits that actually inhibit us from seizing the great challenges and problems of our time’. In The Prophetic Imagination we see that the greatest of the prophets clear the way for us to see the world as it could be and these prophets seem to appear at times of chaos and change.

This title can be ordered from Waterstones.

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