Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.
Paper, 160 pages. ISBN 0-8006-3687-2
the words of the author, “This book is an effort to explain the best of
homiletics from the perspective of the Black church.”
who teaches preaching at the School of Theology of Virginia Union University
in Richmond, offers an interesting discussion of preaching in the African-American
church, and argues that all preachers can benefit from a better understanding
of Black preaching.
discusses the hermeneutical roots of African-American preaching, emphasizing
the central role the church plays in the Black community. Harris uses Martin
Luther King, Jr., as an example in analyzing the preacher’s self-understanding.
He offers an extended discussion of three “modern African-American princes
of the pulpit:” John M. Ellison (the first African-American to become President
of Virginia Union), Miles Jerome Jones (professor of homiletics at Virginia
Union until his death in 2002), and Samuel Proctor (a Duke Divinity School professor
until his 1997 death, he presented the Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at
Yale in 1990).
discusses the dialogical nature of the Black sermon, which emphasizes its orality.
As he notes, “the congregation expects the preacher to speak as if he or
she is speaking from an orality grounded in memory rather than in written discourse.”
He evaluates the aesthetic nature of Black preaching, such as the place of rhythm
emphasizes the importance of story and imagination in African-American preaching,
then concludes with a discussion of the development of a sermon. Throughout
the book, Harris has included brief sermonic examples of the issues on which
eh is commenting.
will be a helpful book for anyone seeking a better understanding of the power
of African-American preaching and the insights that tradition has to offer to
all who proclaim God’s Word.