Sub-title – How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres.
I hope this book gets the recognition it deserves. This is a power-packed paperback that seeks to stimulate Biblical preachers in developing variety in their preaching through awareness of how the various Biblical genres function. Arthurs offers not only understanding of how the genres do what they do, but also many suggestions on how to reflect their diversity as we preach them.
Arthurs states, “I believe that a sermon’s content should explain and apply the Word of God as it is found in a biblical text, and a sermon’s form should unleash the impact of that text.” (p.13)
Arthurs is not arguing that the form of a text dictate the form of a sermon, even if that were possible. Rather he argues that genre sensitive preaching seeks to replicate the impact of the text. He affirms the great freedom in form available to preachers, and encourages that freedom by presenting the great variety found within the six major Biblical genres.
The first two chapters argue in favor of variety in preaching, firstly because God the master communicator uses such great variety in all His communication – not least in the diverse forms of literature used in His Word, and secondly because our listeners value variety.
The rest of the book deals with six Biblical literary forms: Psalms, Narrative, Parables, Proverbs, Epistles and Apocalyptic. In each case presenting an introduction to the genre, a helpful explanation of the rhetorical devices used to create their impact and numerous helpful suggestions on how to preach the different types of text. The result of these suggestions, if heeded, will be real variety in Biblical preaching.
Arthurs is as much concerned with rightly handling the Biblical forms as he is with prompting variety in preaching. He is urging effective understanding of the rhetorical function of Biblical genre, so that one’s preaching might also fizz with Biblical variety. This is not the definitive book on creative preaching, for there are others that suggest many exciting and bizarre possibilities. However this may well become a model book on interpreting Biblical genre (and in that divinely designed diversity is the shove we all need to vary our preaching!)
So I hope this book gets the recognition it deserves. Thomas Long’s brief paperback on literary forms has been rightly praised as a helpful introduction to the subject of genre studies with some help for the preacher. Arthur’s work may well replace Long’s, for it is a more complete introduction to more Biblical genres from a more definite evangelical stance, with much more in the way of practical suggestion for the preacher.
This book will help you say what the text says, and do what the text does!
(Peter has responded to a comment on this review)