During the nearly 30 years of this publication’s history, one goal has been to guide preachers and church leaders toward excellent books that would enhance their ministries. Al Mohler’s annual surveys have highlighted hundreds of worthy titles, which deserve to be on preachers’ bookshelves. My own role has been to put a spotlight on outstanding books about preaching. In addition, each year we have focused attention on one volume—our annual Preaching Book of the Year—which warrants special attention because of its significant contribution to the field of preaching.
This year’s Book of the Year is Privilege the Text: A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching by Abraham Kuruvilla, published by Moody Press. Kuruvilla is associate professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as a dermatologist in private practice.
Privilege the Text is not light reading; indeed, many readers initially may be discouraged by the dense and challenging language of the text, including a heavy reliance on technical theological terminology. However, those who persevere will find the results well worth the effort, as Kuruvilla offers a substantive approach to interpreting biblical texts for preaching and teaching.
Kuruvilla takes on the challenge of taking a text that is 3,500 years old and interpreting it in such a way that it has relevance for life in the third millennium. That is the challenge every biblical preacher faces every Sunday, and “the goal of this work is to create a bridge spanning those waters, by employing with profit concepts derived from hermeuetics and theology.”
Spanning the chronological and cultural gap from biblical text to contemporary life application is the burden and challenge preachers face. As Kuruvilla observes, “the crux of the hermeneutical problem is the transversal from the then of the text to the now of the audience.” He proposes to aid preachers in that process by providing “a theological hermeneutic for the operation of moving from text to application.”
In emphasizing a theological hermeneutic, he does not rely on a biblical or systematic theology, but rather what he identifies as a theology of the pericope—what the author is doing with what he is saying in the specific pericope chosen for the sermon. What in this unit text of preaching is intended to change the lives of listeners for the glory of God?” In developing his approach, the author thinks of preaching in terms of a “two-step enterprise: from text to theology, and from theology to application.”
Don Sunukjian affirms Privilege the Text as “a magnificent work, showing us how to move from the then of the text to the now of the audience. Kuruvilla repeatedly demonstrates how paying attention to the details of the text leads to the underlying truth that spans all generations. His discussion of how all parts of the law—civil, moral and ceremonial—are applicable today is worth the price of the book. You will understand your task as a preacher as never before, and find yourself with a renewed excitement for it.”
We are pleased to recommend Privilege the Text to you as our Preaching Book of the Year.