Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching, William H. Willimon and Richard Lischer, editors (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995), 518 pages, paper, $35.
The problem with a book like the Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching is that it can keep you from your sermon preparation. Thumbing through articles ranging from “Acoustics” to “Zwingli” — picking up fascinating tidbits of information about favorite preachers and unusual topics — can fill a preacher’s day and leave you wanting more.
This hefty volume is edited by William Willimon and Richard Lischer, both of Duke University. Willimon serves as dean of the chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School (and is a Contributing Editor of Preaching) while Lischer is professor of homiletics at the same school. They have enlisted a team of nearly two hundred contributors, a group that is heavily weighted to academicians from mainline seminaries but does contain a nice selection of evangelical scholars.
Many of the articles deal with topics uniquely relating to preaching (such as topical or expository preaching), plus many broader topics that relate to preaching (such as hermeneutics and exegesis). There is a fine article on the history of preaching, plus articles that offer insights into various preaching traditions (African-American preaching, folk preaching, Puritan preaching).
Of most enjoyment to many readers will be the many biographical articles on past and present preachers (from Chrysostom to Robert Schuller). A number of these contain brief excerpts from the preaching ministry of the individual discussed. I enjoyed learning more about some outstanding preachers I knew little about, and appreciated the opportunity to become acquainted with preachers previously unknown to me but who were significant preachers in traditions other than my own.
Preachers who have been out of seminary for some time will appreciate the chance to get “up to date” on developments in the preaching craft through introductory articles on topics like “Narrative Preaching” and on individuals like “Fred Craddock.”
The breadth of topics is outstanding, although the bias of the editors is demonstrated more in the omissions than the selections. For example, the Encyclopedia includes articles on Phoebe Palmer and Howard Thurman (both appropriate topics) but not on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones — probably the most influential British preacher of this century –or Clarence Macartney.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching is a useful reference tool for preachers and homileticians and will find a welcome place in many libraries.
Book Notes
Gary V. Smith, The Prophets as Preachers (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 372 pages, cloth.
Describing the Hebrew prophets as “the most persuasive preachers in all of history” (Jeremiah might have disagreed, considering the response he received), Smith provides an introduction to the prophets from the perspective of their proclamation of God’s message.
The book will find its widest use as a classroom text, but will be of value to preachers in providing preaching insights from the prophetic literature.
Smith is professor of Old Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN.
John H. Westerhoff, Spiritual Life: The Foundation for Preaching and Teaching, (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), 80 pages, paper.
This tiny but worthwhile book is adapted from material Westerhoff presents during his “Spirituality and Preaching” seminar at the College of Preachers in Washington, DC. (The College is an Episcopal continuing education organization based at the National Cathedral.) It is a reminder of the vital link between effective preaching and the spiritual life of the preacher. Although a brief volume, it contains a number of rich insights which will minister to those who preach or teach the Word.
Westerhoff was for many years professor of theology and Christian nurture at Duke University Divinity School, and is now director of the Institute of Pastoral Studies at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA.
Richard Allen Bodey, editor, The Lamb of God, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1994), 139 pages, paper, $7.99.
Dick Bodey is a publishing machine, bringing us many excellent collections of sermons over the years. This latest volume contains previously unpublished sermons by Clarence E. Macartney, pastor of the great First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh for nearly three decades and a major conservative voice in the pulpit of his generation.
In the book of Revelation, John uses the image of “the lamb of God” no less than twenty-eight times, and nine of Macartney’s sermons included here form a series around texts using this biblical image. Bodey has added four additional sermons never published before. Preachers will find a wealth of homiletical insights in this small volume.
Bodey, a frequent contributor to Preaching, this month retires from the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Ruth, will be moving to New Market, VA.
Olin P. Moyd, The Sacred Art: Preaching and Theology in the African-American Tradition (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1995), 152 pages, paper, $12.
This helpful volume provides a survey of the black preaching tradition in America, demonstrating how outstanding African-American preachers teach practical theology to their people through the pulpit. Moyd demonstrates, at least in part, why the preacher continues to be such a central figure in the African-American community.
If for no other reason, the book is worth the investment to read the sermon by the late Sandy F. Ray — pastor of Brooklyn’s Cornerstone Baptist Church for thirty-five years — presented to a minister’s conference in 1970. Ray was a pivotal figure in the development of black preaching in this century, and deserves wider acknowledgement.
Moyd is pastor of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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