Book Review: “Peace” by Walter Brueggemann

Pastor Matthew Best
6 min readSep 19, 2022

“Peace” by Walter Brueggemann was a wonderful book that fed my soul. Again, instead of going over every section that I highlighted (which seems to be just about on every page,) I’m going to touch on a few key points of the book and encourage you to buy the book and read it for yourself.

The book is set into five parts all relating to different aspects of peace. But understand this is not the typical book about peace. This is a book about peace coming from an Old Testament scholar, so we are looking at it from a different perspective — frankly a much healthier perspective. We’re looking at peace from the essence of shalom. I’ll take a quick look at each section briefly.

But before we do, here’s a core concept that you need to understand. Brueggemann talks about shalom, but never alone. He makes a point of linking peace with justice, or mishpat. Shalom is a new order. It is not at hand, but promised. It is the assured well-being that is coming. It is both political and economic. Because how can there be well-being if it doesn’t encompass both of these things? That’s a scary concept for many people. It’s a reordering of how things are done. Are we really prepared for that? Do we really want God’s shalom? Or do we want just some cheap imitation?

Part one is A Vision of Shalom. This is some of the most beautiful passages of writing that I read. But that shouldn’t be a shock — we are talking about shalom after all and the vision of shalom. You have to understand that shalom is more than just a greeting of someone or just saying “peace” to someone. It is the culmination of God’s vision. Or to put it in the words of Brueggemann, “It is well-being that exists in the very midst of threats…The vision of wholeness, which is the supreme will of the biblical God, is the outgrowth of a covenant of shalom (see Ezekiel 34:24), in which persons are bound not only to God but to one another in a caring, sharing, rejoicing community with none to make them afraid.” (pg. 15). How absolutely beautiful! Why would we not want that? But some don’t. It makes no sense at all.

Part two is A Vision of Freedom. Freedom is misunderstood. We Americans think we understand freedom, but we don’t. We don’t even begin to understand it. We too often define to mean something that means that we can do whatever we want — something that is more in line with selfishness. This is opposed to shalom, which is oriented to the good of the whole. “Freedom, when it comes, comes from God.” (Pg…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.