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Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,286 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Discussions about the Sabbath often center around moralistic laws and arguments over whether a person should be able to play cards or purchase liquor on Sundays. In this volume, popular author Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks t ...more
Paperback, 89 pages
Published January 31st 2014 by Westminster John Knox Press (first published January 3rd 2014)
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Cindy Rollins
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I am not in line with all of the author's theology, I greatly appreciated the theme of sabbath. Especially since as I write we have all been handed a sabbath rest by God in the form of the reaction to the Corona Virus of social distancing. We moderns desperately need sabbath and I believe Brueggemann when he says there are great benefits from taking a break from covetous living.

I had planned to practice Lent more delibrately this year. That plan became more of a reality than I anticipated
Dan Glover
There are some truly great insights in this book. The theme of Sabbath as Resistance to the break-neck pace of life and unending pursuit of material wealth and achievement is a message the church of our day (particularly the North American church) needs to take to heart. This book is (thankfully) not a legalistic volume of "thou shalt nots", nor does it spiritualize away the meaning of Sabbath rest - it really means resting from our labours. The Sabbath is a call to resist the dehumanizing gods ...more
Jacob Aitken
Brueggemann uses the Sabbath as a prism through which we understand economics and social relations and the ideological assumptions embedded in each.

“The demands of market ideology pertain as much to consumption as they do to production” (Brueggemann xii). It is “Pharaoh’s insatiable script.”

“Wherever YHWH governs as an alternative to Pharaoh, there the restfulness of YHWH effectively counters the restless anxiety of Pharaoh” (xiii).

Sabbath and the First Commandment

God is embedded in a narrative
Neil R. Coulter
If I felt as I read Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance that I didn’t loooove it, that’s probably partly because I picked it up right after finishing a book by John Walton. For me, not many authors can top Walton when writing about the Old Testament. However, Brueggemann makes some excellent points about Sabbath-keeping, in the Bible and now. The six chapters look at Sabbath particularly in light of its place in the ten commandments. Brueggemann sees the Sabbath commandment as affirming t ...more
Peter Bringe
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, culture
Brueggemann is liberal in his approach to Scripture, and that comes out in the book, but the book is beneficial with regard to its main insight. This insight is that the Sabbath is “a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistence’s of the market...It is an alternative to the demanding ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
Brueggemann starts off strong in making a Biblical case for the Sabbath and its importance. While there is some good paragraphs that encourage further thought and study, the book ultimately falls apart as it continues. It seems as though he argues that, if you observe the Sabbath, then you will keep from breaking the other commandments in the 10 Commandments. And yet, if you don't, you're giving yourself up to breaking the other commandments and will inevitably do so. While I understand this tra ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A commentary on the Exodus and giving of the Ten Commandments that roots itself in our contemporary imagination, and is a call to leave behind the pattern of coercion that is marked by anxiety, exclusion, and multitasking.

“Do you, when you wake up in the night, remember what you were supposed to have done, vexed that you did not meet expectations? Do you fall asleep counting bricks? Do you dream of more bricks you have to make yet or if bricks you have made that were flawed? We dream so because
Aldon Hynes
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. It offers a very helpful way of thinking about Sabbath and its meaning for our relationship with God and our lives today. It fits very well with Brueggemann's Prophetic Imagination and has a study section if you wish to use it for a religious education course.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a Seventh-day Adventist I've practiced Sabbath-keeping for my entire life, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, at some times better than others, but it has been a fixture within my life, requiring me to ask for different exam schedules during University, and not attending friends birthday parties as a child. I've heard dozens of sermons preached on the Sabbath, but I don't know that I've ever heard or read something quite like this book.

In my memory most of the sermons I've heard on the
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Sabbath as Resistance” is an apt title. This book is really a nonviolent call to arms–to resist the powers and principalities of consumerism and hostility that have always been engrained in every age. There were moments while reading this book where I could feel the falseness of this present world, and I would have to simply look around for a while just to take it all in. The sinister forces that keep people independent from one another in implicit rivalry are once again named and denounced in ...more
Roland Clark
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sabbath as Resistance (2014) calls on us to abandon our slavery to modern capitalism and consumerism, embracing instead a trusting attitude towards a God who takes care of our daily needs. Brueggemann writes, “I have found this study to be an important existential one for me. I know about the restless anxiety of not yet having done enough.” To put that in context, Sabbath as Resistance is one of six books this retired theology professor has published this year alone.

See my full review here: htt
Allison Gregory-Graff
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was pretty short but VERY dense. At one point I was giving myself a hard time because I hadn’t finished it yet, and I was a couple weeks into 2018 and hadn’t finished a book yet.

Now, I am content with how fast I read it, because it’s jam packed with information and wisdom. I think I still skimmed some parts more than I should have..

It was actually a great book to begin 2018 with, because it sets the tone of rethinking your life in terms of the Sabbath. A great quote of the book says,
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really quite disappointing - for such a well known scholar, the exegesis is flimsy at best (I had a professor who would have written thin next to large portions of the books), he shows almost no cultural sensitivity to the ANE context, and to top it all off, the book isn't even practical (no, adding a study guide does not make it practical).

Oh, and did I mention he seems to confuse the Pharaoh of Joseph's time with the Pharaoh of Moses' time? At best, it's a deliberate obfuscation, at worst...we
Jean Doane
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book, a birthday present fom my son Michael, while flying to Clevelad for the Common Global Ministries Fall 2017 meetings. Why not get closer to God while a citizen of the City in the Sky, part of the one million people in flight at any given moment in time? Walter Brueggemann is one of my favorite theologians, an elder statesman of the United Church of Christ. In under 100 pages, he insightfully lays out the case for Sabbath observance as a revolutionary act, an act of resistance ag ...more
Lisa Lewton
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If the American people were to really consider this brief writing, and truly listen to the way we treat people and life as something to be mastered with efficiency and charm, Brueggeman would be in trouble. The culture might kill the messenger in anger over the notion that relationships with the vulnerable and the neighborhood matter most. Brueggeman takes us back to the context of the 10 commandments, when the Israelites were fleeing the Sabbath-opposed Pharoah. We remember God's dream for us i ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is fabulous. A deeper, more biblical exposition on Sabbath than I'm accustomed to, but a welcome one. The text is a bit dense, but still readable, and its chapters are short enough that you can take little bits at a time and digest it all over a week or two. While others have made me feel guilty for working too much, or better yet, convinced me that I should stop working at least one day a week, Brueggemann explores the power Sabbath has in interrupting and changing destructive cycles in ou ...more
John Griffiths
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
a surprisingly good read for a work of theology and quick too - I rattled through it in less than a week. So little theology written is relevant to business and consumer culture this was a treat. It contrasts sabbath and stopping with the anxiety culture of pharoah - the pyramid that has the workers labouring endlessly while the few at the top worry about not having enough and driving everyone including themselves to create surpluses. It could be edited down a tad. But I think Breuggeman missed ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel like Brueggeman didn't have to break this book up into chapters...they were all the same argument in my opinion, of how the fourth commandment on Sabbath binds all the other 9 together.

Anyways, great book. Good insight on what Sabbath looks like practically and how it is positively countercultural. I like his writing too.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this book. Though at times it reads a bit like, what are you talking about? And at other times I wish he would've expounded upon his statements. But, the general idea is looking at the commandment to keep the Sabbath in light of the rest of the 10 commandments, in particular thou shall have no other gods before me and thou shall love they neighbor. And I think that's really kind of genius. Because not only does it bring the Sabbath into this different kind of understanding but i ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Sabbath-keeping is not central to Christian life for most modern Christians. We know it's there in the 10 commandments, but we don't pay much attention to it. Even if we go to church on Sunday, most of us go out to eat or the grocery store -- expecting, apparently, that others will be hard at work. Sabbath-keeping is consigned to the age of Blue Laws or the Puritans.

In this small but powerful book, Walter Brueggemann, redefines Sabbath for us, or at least its purpose. It is an act of resistance
Rick Lee Lee James
What A Wonderful Corrective To Consumerism

To see other humans as commodities to be bought, sold, traded, exploited, and ultimately thrown away is to cease seeing others as neighbors. Brueggemann proposes that a corrective to our Pharoah-like, ceaseless work is to recapture authentic Sabbath in its true embodiment, Jesus. Jesus says to all weary and heavy laden people, "come to me and I will give you rest."

One of my favorite moments of this book comes in the introduction when Brueggemann guides
marcus miller
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Growing up, keeping Sabbath, especially when we were with my Beachy Amish relatives meant no softball, no swimming and no fishing in their pond. At home it meant going to church twice on Sunday and learning to make my own fried egg sandwich for supper because Mom stayed out of the kitchen after the noon meal. Brueggemann makes keeping Sabbath much more.
Using the Exodus story, interspersed with stories of Jesus, Brueggemann critiques our modern capitalistic economy which measures human labor as
Richard Propes
I sit here in my home on a Wednesday evening. It's my third month of working from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that immediately followed my over three-month stint at home following limb amputation in late November 2019.

I worked two hours over this evening, a frequent occurrence as I work from home and have easy access to my work computer and the network that used to be unavailable anywhere but my office.

Now, I wake up and work. I eat lunch and work. I eat dinner and wo
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book, while short, is not an easy read. It is very challenging and thought-provoking. This quote from chapter 6 is a nice summary of what I took from it.

"Sabbath is an arena in which to recognize that we live by gift and not by possession, that we are satisfied by relationships of attentive fidelity and not by amassing commodities. We know in the gospel tradition that we may indeed “gain the whole world” and lose our souls (Mark 8:34–37). Thus Sabbath is soul-receiving when we are in a pos
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Walter Brueggemann remains among the most imaginative and helpful interpreters of scripture. This book is a meditation on how the practice of sabbath enables God's people to overcome the anxiety-laden consumptive lifestyle into which our society has capitulated. I really liked the final chapter which positions the sabbath commandment in the midst of our love for God and love for our neighbors. Funny thing, when I think of sabbath I always seem to be thinking about how it will affect me not my ne ...more
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading. For everyone, not just Christians. Short and readable, and excellent at reminding us how important it is to PRACTICE our theology. Sabbath forces us to divest ourselves of the trappings of production so that we can invest in neighbors and relationships. It forces us to practice trust and resist anxiety. I especially needed the reminder to stop multitasking on Sabbath. Most of the time I have to live in the culture of now, but Sabbath points to the eternal, to the ...more
Demetrius Rogers
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This slim volume is made up of 6 chapters. Chapters 1-3 were amazing. Brueggemann stayed with the text of Scripture and made fascinating connections and applications. However, by the end of chapter 3, he seemed to have used up his best ideas. The remainder of the book struck me as repetitious and, unfortunately, politically partisan.
Ben Hughes
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brueggemann unpacks the teaching of the Torah to show Sabbath as a counter cultural practice with serious existential implications. This is a must-read for Christians seeking to speak a word of hopeful protest.
Dan Brunner
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a short simple book with a vital message for our world. I've got a good class in which I will use this book.
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a quick but powerful read! I think that much of this content shaped the Garden City teachings on sabbath, and the importance of the practice really resonated with me.
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Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament and is the author of numerous books, including Westminster John Knox Press best sellers such as Genesis and First and Second Samuel in the Interpretation series, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christ ...more

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