Back in February I think it was, I retweeted a link to a new collection of essays from IVP Academic called Preaching The New Testament. A few weeks later I was surprised to find a copy in my mailbox, but that’s just how awesome Adrianna Wright is over at IVP. 1 I got sick shortly after as is my yearly custom, 2 and then things got crazy and this book almost fell by the wayside, much like the seed being scattered by the fellow in the picture on the cover. But, I finally got around to reading it, and here’s what I think.
This volume is the result of a meeting of the New Testament Group of Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical and Theological Research held in July 2011 (16). Though not exhaustive, the papers from that conference cover much ground in the preaching of the New Testament from both a theoretically and practical standpoint. Readers looking for detailed instructions on how to preach any given passage, much less whole books will be disappointed. In the editors’ own words, the goal is more modest:
We are not in this volume writing about preaching technique or how to be rhetorically effective, though that is not an unimportant question. Many scholars believe that the New Testament writers were very interested in conveying their messages persuasively, and so we should do the same. This book is not about persuasive communication, but is a contribution from New Testament scholars who are also preachers, sharing some insights about how to interpret and communicate the New Testament today. It is not designed as a scholarly book for scholars either on hermeneutics or on the biblical writings themselves, but it is a book informed by scholarship and designed to be useful to preachers who are at the coalface of ministry.(15) 3
Keeping this goal in mind, readers will find useful advice on how to approach preaching in the essays that follow. The breakdown follows general sections, although the first five essays are related to preaching in the Gospels. First, Don “The Dragon” Carson offers his thoughts and wisdom on preaching the Gospels in general. Then, R. T. France writes on preaching the infancy narratives. 4 Next, Klyne Snodgrass walks us through the parables, Stephen Wright walks us through the miracles, and David Wenham deals with the Sermon on The Mount.
After this the pace picks up a bit and Christoph Stenschke tackles preaching from Acts, while Justin Hardin and Jason Maston wrestle with preaching Paul. Showing a bit of the presuppositions of the editors (and the author himself), I. Howard Marshall then gives advice on preaching the Pastorals. 5 Hebrews is then covered by Charles Anderson and I found it to be one of the more helpful essays in this volume. This is followed my Miriam Kamell’s insights on the General Epistles, which she helpfully breaks down book by book. Then Ian Paul unpacks preaching Revelation and is a must read for anyone preaching or teaching that dark corner of the New Testament.
The final six essays turn to particular topics that affect preaching, as well as particular topics that will be brought out in preaching the New Testament. First, Peter Oakes shows readers how archaeology and history can inform New Testament preaching. Then, John Nolland gives insight on preaching ethics, while Stephen Travis does the same for hope and judgment. The final three essays cover hot topics in New Testament studies. William Olhausen touches on theological interpretation and its role in preaching. Then Helge Stadelmann mines the “New Homiletic” for insights before the collection is wrapped up by Paul Weston’s discussion of how to preach the gospel from the Gospels.
Overall I found this collection to be generally helpful. I do not do much preaching so I’m not often “at the coalface” so to speak. I do teach New Testament, and I do like the mechanics behind crafting a good sermon, so I still found this book useful. I particularly benefited from the essays on Hebrews and Revelation. I though it also interesting that there are six times as many essays on preaching from the gospels as there are from Paul (unless you count the chapter on Pastorals, then there are still three times as many). I am guessing this is for much the same reason that my preaching classes at Dallas didn’t cover preaching from the epistles and instead focused on Proverbs, Genesis, and Mark. Basically, it is not that difficult to preach from Paul as it is from other places in the Old and New Testaments. 6 Given the goals of the book, I think it hits its target and will be a useful in stimulating the thinking of anyone who regularly teaches or preaches from the New Testament.
- Editors: Ian Paul & David Wenham
- Title: Preaching The New Testament
- Publisher: IVP Academic (February 14, 2013)
- Paperback: 263pgs
- Reading Level: Bible School
- Audience Appeal: Pastors and students interested in scholarly essays on preaching the New Testament
- Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of IVP Academic)
- She can almost read my mind when it comes to what books I’ll request ↩
- To get sick once a year, not to get sick when I’m surprised by books in the mail. I’d be getting sick a lot if that were the case ↩
- Unless you’re British, “at the coalface” might not be the clearest expression. It basically means “doing the work involved in a job in the real working conditions, as opposed to merely planning or talking about it.” ↩
- He actually died unexpectedly, and while the editors thought this might be his final published work and dedicated the volume to him, he actually has a commentary on Luke coming out later this year in the Teach The Text series. Also, his friends call him Dick ↩
- Interestingly, the “I” is short for Ian, which is already short for John. Just thought you should know ↩
- You know what I mean here, I’m not saying Paul is easy to understand, just he is relatively easier to preach ↩