Singing and Suffering with the Servant: Isaiah as Guide for Preaching the Old Testament
This dissertation argues that domination in its many forms (political, economic, cultural, theological) continues to significantly affect Old Testament hermeneutics and homiletics. Those who write about preaching the Old Testament frequently depict the Old Testament as a sort of Suffering Servant—despised, rejected, and acquainted with grief. However, as a review of literature in chapter 2 shows, despite the helpful strategies and insights offered by homileticians who write on Old Testament preaching, the majority do not significantly address larger issues of domination and marginalization in their treatment of these texts. By contrast, a close reading of the four Suffering Servant Songs as preaching in chapter 3 highlights several key ways in which domination affected, and continues to affect, homiletical approaches to the Old Testament. These insights are developed further in chapter 4 by reflection on the work of Alexander Deeg, a German, Christian homiletician learning from Jewish hermeneutics and working to undo centuries of Christian domination. Examination of recent leading African American homileticians in chapter 5 also shows a long-standing and developing homiletic that frequently draws on the Old Testament to respond directly to contexts of injustice.
Preaching the Old Testament with an awareness of ancient and contemporary domination leads to a different homiletic approach. The Old Testament becomes an ally and example for combatting marginalization and a model for proclaiming older texts in new contexts. Further, Second Isaiah’s use of the Servant trope, Alexander Deeg’s work on preaching in the presence of Jews, and the witnesses of African American preaching invite Christian proclamation that focuses on undoing the oppression of othering, preaches with the Spirit, announces the Liberating, Creator God, and engages messianism without being anti-Jewish. These approaches demonstrate that the Old Testament sings good news, especially in contexts of suffering and domination.
African American Preaching
German Jewish-Christian Dialogue
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