Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 11:2 (Fall 1990) p. 237
Sidney Greidanus. The Modern Preacher and the Biblical Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988. 374 pp. $19.95.
John Stott is indisputably correct in arguing that the preacher’s substantive task is to bridge between the ancient world with its Biblical revelation and the modem world with all of its complex etiologies. The underlying skill involves exegesis and hermeneutics and the ability creatively to package the data in effective homiletical construct for communication.
A flurry of efforts is presently addressing the technical and practical aspects of this challenge. Exegetes (such as Walter Kaiser) and homileticians (such as Thomas Long) are stressing the criticality of preaching the literary genre of the text. The contribution of Sidney Greidanus at this point is immensely helpful. Building on his earlier Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts (Toronto, Wedge, 1970), Greidanus has extensively broadened his scope in this work and made an exceptionally erudite and provocative statement for our developing understanding of these foundational issues.
Greidanus has been Professor of Theology at The King’s College in Edmonton, Alberta. This year he moves to head up homiletics at Calvin Theological Seminary. His own vocational bridging of disciplines gives particular interest to his work and presages the shape of preaching not only in the Christian Reformed Church but beyond it, given the depth and significance of this volume we are here considering.
The book begins with meaty chapters on what Biblical preaching is and the place of the historical-critical method in the preparation of the text for preaching. Literary, historical and theological canons are analyzed and then attention is turned to the various forms of the sermon. The importance of application is emphasized in terms of “bridging the gap,” and then solid chapters are devoted to preaching Hebrew narrative, prophetic literature, the Gospels and finally the Epistles. In each case the literary genre is given painstaking care and guidelines are suggested for the actual working of the materials for the sermon. Although incidental references are made to poetry as found in prophetic literature and to apocalyptic as found in the Gospels, regrettably there is no extensive treatment of the wisdom literature of Scripture as a whole or to the onerously difficult apocalyptic books. While Greidanus. would not align himself in any way with David Buttrick’s homiletic which cannot handle wisdom literature or with Buttrick’s dismissal of the relevance of apocalyptic (perhaps it’s time to go back to H.H. Rowley’s The Relevance of Apocalyptic), he has left us...
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