Duane Litfin (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015). Paper, 392 pages.
Serious students of preaching will be glad to know about a newly revised and expanded edition of Duane Litfin’s book Paul’s Theology of Preaching (originally published in 1994 as St. Paul’s Theology of Proclamation). Litfin, who taught at Dallas Seminary and served as a pastor, retired as president of Wheaton College in 2010 after 17 years in the role.
In this substantial volume, Litfin analyzes 1 Corinthians 1 – 4 to understand Paul’s own understanding of the work of the preacher. He notes that despite the centrality of preaching in Paul’s ministry and thought, these chapters are the only place in Paul’s letters “in which we discover anything like a reasoned exploration of how the Apostle operated as a preacher and why.”Litfin provides an understanding of the Greco-Roman rhetoric that was such an important cultural element of Paul’s own age, then argues for a distinction between the rhetoric of his day and Paul’s emphasis on the preacher as herald, drawing on “the Old Testament prophetic calling and the ministry of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels.”
He notes that Augustine, the first Christian scholar to offer a manual for preachers (De Doctrina Christiana), falls back on his own earlier training in rhetoric and opts for Aristotle rather than Paul in his understanding of the nature of Christian preaching. Litfin calls us back to reconsider what Paul says about our call to preach.