Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible

By Thomas G. Long | Go to book overview

2
MOVING
from text to sermon

READING A TEXT—PREACHING A TEXT

I described in chapter 1 some of the dynamics that can occur in the interaction between a text and a reader. What implications does this understanding of the reading process have for the exegesis of biblical texts, especially that exegesis which is headed toward the eventual goal of preaching? A recent volume on biblical exegesis indicates that “one way to think about the exegetical task is to conceive of it as learning to interrogate the biblical text.”1 If this is so, an understanding of the communicational aspects of reading texts would suggest that the usual set of questions brought by the preacher to a text must be expanded. In addition to such traditional exegetical questions as authorship, date, and occasion, we must ask questions aimed at discovering the literary dynamics of the text, how the text guides the reading process, and what rhetorical effects may be created in the reader by the text.

Most seminary-trained ministers have been schooled to analyze biblical texts as documents which were shaped by the circumstances in which they originated, and thus they ask historical questions of those texts. One of the enduring contributions of the historical-critical approach to Scripture has been the recognition that biblical passages do not spring from thin air. They are not expressions of disembodied and timeless truths or “messages from heaven” disconnected from concrete historical circumstances. Biblical texts were written by particular people employing particular resources in particular circumstances and for particular purposes. In short, biblical texts have a history, and

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Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Part 1 - The Approach 9
  • 1 - Learning How to Read 11
  • 2 - Moving from Text to Sermon 23
  • Part 2 - The Literary Forms 41
  • 3 - Preaching on the Psalms 43
  • 4 - Preaching on Proverbs 53
  • 5 - Preaching on Narratives 66
  • 6 - Preaching on the Parables of Jesus 87
  • 7 - Preaching on Epistles 107
  • 8 - Sermon Notes 127
  • Notes 136
  • Index of Names and Subjects 141
  • Index of Biblical Texts 143
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