Choosing a “Book of the Year” out of the crowded field of recent releases is not an easy task. In the course of any publishing year several titles are worthy of special recognition and appreciation. The current revival of interest in preaching has produced a spate of worthy volumes, many of which should claim the preacher’s attention.
Yet the intersection of a pressing issue and an outstanding book have simplified the challenge of determining the 1990 Preaching Book of the Year. The pressing issue is the relationship between biblical exegesis and preaching. The book is The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sidney Greidanus (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).
The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text is must reading for those serious about biblical preaching, and has earned the distinction as the Preaching Book of the Year. The current interest in hermeneutics has impacted both church and society, demanding that the preacher be a skilled and effective interpreter of the biblical text.
Greidanus, professor of theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, brings a high view of biblical authority to this substantial volume. The emergence of the volume is another mark of the continuing development of contemporary preaching.
Some comments from the original review, published in the May-June 1989 issue of Preaching:
Greidanus takes as his focus the merging of interest in biblical hermeneutics and homiletics. His focus is not on general philosophical hermeneutics, but on the contemporary discussion in biblical hermeneutics — a discussion shaped and influenced by the larger debate.
Greidanus addresses his book to the need for “a tool to bridge the gap between the department of biblical studies and that of homiletics.” Nevertheless, the book’s intended readership is not limited to the academy, but includes the motivated practicing preacher as well.
Preaching, suggests Greidanus, has undergone a “paradigm shift” which parallels the shift in literary studies from historical investigation to genre-based criticism — a shift which has produced the contemporary interest in forms of sermons.
?? words: “These paradigm shifts ?? up exciting possibilities for ?? but also some precarious hazards.” Greidanus’ treatment is a responsible and balanced discussion of these issues rooted in great respect for biblical preaching.
The focus on biblical preaching Keep the volume faithful to its ?? contemporary preachers are, according to the author, even more dependent upon the biblical text than the prophets and apostles. Modern preachers, if they are to preach with authority, “must speak not their own word but that of their Sender.” As ministers of the Word, preachers must submit to the biblical text, and not force the text to submit to their intent or interpretation.
The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text is, by any measure, a detailed and substantial volume. Greidanus reviews the multiple forms of biblical literate and relates each to biblical hermeneutics and the homiletical task.
The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text fills a critical gap in the existing literature for preachers. Most preaching ministers are in need of a volume which relates the contemporary hermeneutical discussion to the preaching task. This is just that volume.
Though many readers will take issue with Greidanus at some point, all will read his volume with great profit. His call to a thematic-textual mode of preaching is a challenge to the biblical preacher. Evangelical readers will appreciate Greidanus’ conservative appropriation of literature and hermeneutical studies.
A rediscovery of biblical preaching is the hope of the contemporary church. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text is a promising indication of the current interest in biblical proclamation. “The preacher,” suggests Greidanus, “stands at the intersection of the ancient Scriptures and the contemporary church and has a responsibility to both.” This volume will serve preachers seeking to fulfilll that weighty responsibility.

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