A Prophetic Countertheme – Brueggemann

When I write about speaking prophetically, this is pretty much what I mean. I have never claimed to have any special revelation from God. Anything I have said has come from my interpretation of scripture.

The prophetic tradition, ancient and contemporary, may be summarized around a series of quite specific claims. I have elsewhere offered these as characteristic marks of a prophetic counterinterpretation of human history:

  1. The prophetic tradition is against idols, and consequently against self-serving, self-deceiving ideology.
  2. The prophetic tradition refuses, then, to absolutize the present, any present.
  3. Prophetic speech characteristically speaks about human suffering.
  4. Prophetic speech characteristically takes a critical posture over against established power.
  5. Prophetic speech … is an act of relentless hope that refuses to despair, that refuses to believe that the world is closed off in patterns of exploitation and oppression.

These claims of course are not all explicit in our chapter. But I suggest they are implied and coded in the Yahwism that runs from Moses to Jeremiah, with Elijah occupying a middle position with great authority and consequence. It is this counterview of human history that is championed in the narrative through the person of Elijah, a view that continues to be the burden and wonder of prophetic faith.

Walter Brueggemann, “The Prophetic Word of God and History,” Interpretation 48I (1994): 244–45.
Walter Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, ed. Samuel E. Balentine, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Incorporated, 2000), 292.

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