Review of ‘Preaching the New Testament’ by Ian Paul and David Wenham

Preaching the New Testament Paul, Ian and David Wenham, eds. Preaching the New Testament. 2013. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Expository preaching is not an easy task. It requires familiarity with the Bible and your listeners, as well as facility in bridging the contextual divide between the two. In other words, it involves at least three disciplines: exegesis, homiletics, and hermeneutics.

Preaching the New Testament is a collection of 17 essays by evangelical New Testament scholars who are also preachers. Edited by Ian Paul and David Wenham, it does not focus on “persuasive communication.” Rather, it offers “insights about how to interpret and communicate the New Testament today.” In other words, its focus is on exegetical and hermeneutical foundations of homiletics rather than on the mechanics of homiletics.

The first 11 essays are organized in canonical New Testament order, with specific focus on the Gospels (ch. 1), the infancy narratives (ch. 2), Jesus’ parables and miracles (chs. 3, 4), the Sermon on the Mount (ch. 5), Acts (ch. 6), Paul’s letters (ch. 7), the Pastoral Epistles (ch. 8), Hebrews (ch. 9), the General Epistles (ch. 10), and Revelation (ch. 11). The remaining six essays address archaeology and history (ch. 12), New Testament ethics (ch. 13), hope and judgment (ch. 14), relational hermeneutics (ch. 15), exegesis and the “New Homiletic” (ch. 16), and evangelistic preaching (ch. 17).

As a Pentecostal, I was especially interested in the chapters on preaching Jesus’ miracles and Acts. Pentecostals typically ignore the hermeneutical divide between narrative and normative, between what Jesus and the early church did and what we should do. So it was interesting to see how evangelicals negotiate the divide. Though I did not agree with all the conclusions in these chapters, I learned from both of them.

Expository preachers needing help with this Sunday’s sermon will not find it here. Preaching the New Testament offers no plug-and-play advice for procrastinating pulpiteers. Rather, it should be read long in advance of preparing an individual sermon, perhaps as you are planning a new sermon series. It will stimulate insights into about the meaning and significance of the New Testament for contemporary audiences. For the mechanics of how to persuasively communicate these insights from the pulpit, you’ll need to read other books.

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