Monday, December 28, 2009

Walter Brueggemann on the Revelatory New Social Reality of Prophetic Israel

"The ministry of Moses ... represents a radical break with the social reality of Pharaoh's Egypt. The newness and radical innovativeness of Moses and Israel in this period can hardly by overstated. Most of us are probably so used to these narrative that we have become insensitive to the radical and revolutionary social reality that emerged because of Moses. It is clear that the emergence of Israel by the hand of Moses cannot be extrapolated from any earlier reality. Obviously nothing like the Kenite hypothesis of the monotheism of the eighteenth dynasty in Egypt will help us at all. While there are some hints that the God of Israel is known to be the God of the fathers, that evidence is at best obscure. In any case, the overriding experience of Exodus is decisive and not some memory now only hinted at in the tradition. However those antecedents are finally understood, the appearance of a new social reality is unprecedented. Israel in the thirteenth century is indeed ex nihilo. And that new social reality drives us to the category of revelation. Israel can only be understood in terms of the new call of God and his assertion of an alternative social reality. Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political relaity is so radical and inexplicable that it has nothing less than a theological cause. Theological cause without social political reality is only of interest to professional religionists, and social political reality without theological cause need not concern us here. But it is being driven by the one to the other that requires us to speak of and wonder about the call to the prophetic."

--Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 15-16

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