God, Neighbor, Empire
The Excess of Divine Fidelity and the Command of Common Good
Imprint: Baylor University Press
179 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: October 2016
Justice, mercy, and the public good all find meaning in relationship—a relationship dependent upon fidelity, but endlessly open to the betrayals of infidelity. This paradox defines the story of God and Israel in the Old Testament. Yet the arc of this story reaches ever forward, and its trajectory confers meaning upon human relationships and communities in the present. The Old Testament still speaks.
Israel, in the Old Testament, bears witness to a God who initiates and then sustains covenantal relationships. God, in mercy, does so by making promises for a just well-being and prescribing stipulations for the covenant partner’s obedience. The nature of the relationship itself decisively depends upon the conduct, practice, and policy of the covenant partner, yet is radically rooted in the character and agency of God—the One who makes promises, initiates covenant, and sustains relationship.
This reflexive, asymmetrical relationship, kept alive in the texts and tradition, now fires contemporary imagination. Justice becomes shaped by the practice of neighborliness, mercy reaches beyond a pervasive quid pro quo calculus, and law becomes a dynamic norming of the community. The well-being of the neighborhood, inspired by the biblical texts, makes possible—and even insists upon—an alternative to the ideology of individualism that governs our society’s practice and policy. This kind of community life returns us to the arc of God’s gifts—mercy, justice, and law. The covenant of God in the witness of biblical faith speaks now and demands that its interpreting community resist individualism, overcome commoditization, and thwart the rule of empire through a life of radical neighbor love.
Chapter 1. The Nature and Mission of God: Irreducibly, Inscrutably Relational
Chapter 2. Justice: From Zion Back to Sinai
Chapter 3. Grace: The Inexplicable Reach Beyond
Chapter 4. Law: The Summons to Keep Listening
Always provocative and insightful, Walter Brueggemann brilliantly helps us see how the ancient text has stunning implications for how we think and live today. His deep love of God, Scripture, and humanity reverberates throughout this incisive exploration of God’s excessive faithfulness.~Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
In a society that commoditizes nearly all aspects of life, Walter Brueggemann presses Scripture’s summons to a neighborliness attuned to the well-being of the human community and the ecology of creation. God, Neighbor, Empire sets its compass to truths from ancient Israel, but it is a map for finding our way in a contemporary world where ‘liberty and justice for all’ is often hard to find.~Samuel E. Balentine, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Old Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary
Brueggemann’s God, Neighbor, Empire is a stirring account of the various ways in which the Old Testament ‘is offered as an alternative to the imperial narrative that dominates ordinary imagination’—both in ancient times and in the present. As always, one does not need to agree with every Brueggemann reading of the biblical text in order to find him a stimulating and helpful contributor to our understanding of some important themes of biblical theology overall, and of the ways that this theology should shape our imagination, our desire, and our practice, rather than merely reflect them.~Iain Provan, Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College
Readers will find this a rich resource for study and reflection on the God we encounter in the Old Testament and the vibrant and nourishing reality God calls into being through relationship.~John R. Barker, The Bible Today
In a world whose dominant economic philosophy of empire instills a mentality of scarcity and competition, Brueggemann encourages us to follow the lead of the God of excessive fidelity, who initiates a reality characterized by abundance and neighborliness.~Matthew Brake, Reading Religion