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A History of Preaching [Paperback]

By O. C. Edwards (Author)
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Item description for A History of Preaching by O. C. Edwards...

Ecumenical in scope, a comprehensive guide to the development of Christian preaching ranges from the times of the New Testament through the late twentieth century.

Publishers Description

A History of Preaching brings together narrative history and primary sources to provide the most comprehensive guide available to the story of the church's ministry of proclamation.

Bringing together an impressive array of familiar and lesser-known figures, Edwards paints a detailed, compelling picture of what it has meant to preach the gospel. Pastors, scholars, and students of homiletics will find here many opportunities to enrich their understanding and practice of preaching.

Volume 1, appearing in the print edition, contains Edwards's magisterial retelling of the story of Christian preaching's development from its Hellenistic and Jewish roots in the New Testament, through the late-twentieth century's discontent with outdated forms and emphasis on new modes of preaching such as narrative. Along the way the author introduces us to the complexities and contributions of preachers, both with whom we are already acquainted, and to whom we will be introduced here for the first time. Origen, Chrysostom, Augustine, Bernard, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Rauschenbusch, Barth; all of their distinctive contributions receive careful attention. Yet lesser-known figures and developments also appear, from the ninth-century reform of preaching championed by Hrabanus Maurus, to the reference books developed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by the mendicant orders to assist their members' preaching, to Howell Harris and Daniel Rowlands, preachers of the eighteenth-century Welsh revival, to Helen Kenyon, speaking as a layperson at the 1950 Yale Beecher lectures about the view of preaching from the pew.

Volume 2, contained on the enclosed CD-ROM, contains primary source material on preaching drawn from the entire scope of the church's twenty centuries. The author has written an introduction to each selection, placing it in its historical context and pointing to its particular contribution. Each chapter in Volume 2 is geared to its companion chapter in Volume 1's narrative history.

Ecumenical in scope, fair-minded in presentation, appreciative of the contributions that all the branches of the church have made to the story of what it means to develop, deliver, and listen to a sermon, A History of Preaching will be the definitive resource for anyone who wishes to preach or to understand preaching's role in living out the gospel.

..".'This work is expected to be the standard text on preaching for the next 30 years, ' says Ann K. Riggs, who staffs the NCC's Faith and Order Commission. Author Edwards, former professor of preaching at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, is co-moderator of the commission, which studies church-uniting and church-dividing issues.

'A History of Preaching is ecumenical in scope and will be relevant in all our churches; we all participate in this field, ' says Riggs...." from EcuLink, Number 65, Winter 2004-2005 published by the National Council of Churches

Awards and Recognitions
A History of Preaching by O. C. Edwards has received the following awards and recognitions -

  • Book of the Year - 2005 Winner - Book of the Year category

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages   879
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.72" Width: 6.04" Height: 2.06"
Weight:   2.98 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2004
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687038642  
ISBN13  9780687038640  

Availability  0 units.

More About O. C. Edwards

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! O.C. EDWARDS is a historian and former Professor of Homiletics at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary. He is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.

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Reviews - What do customers think about A History of Preaching?

A Slanted, Subjective Look at the History of Preaching from the Liberal Side of the Church.  Jun 21, 2006
O.C Edwards spent 18 years writing this labor of love. He has opted to write a history of how preaching has been done as opposed to a series of biographies on the preachers themselves. Nevertheless, there are extended discussions of people like Origen, St. John Chrysostom, Augustine, Savanarola, Wyclif, Erasmus, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Gladden, and modern preachers such as Gardner Taylor, William Sloane Coffin, Bill Hybels, and Barbara Brown Taylor.

The book is elegantly written, and the author demonstrates a fierce love for the discipline of preaching. I liked that this book focused on trends in the discipline of preaching. It was interesting to read about Origen's allegorical preaching, and how he honestly felt that this was the application that the Spirit was making to the churches of his day.

I liked how Edwards defended the sincerity of George Whitefield against those who charge him with being a divine dramatist, a preacher who plays on people's emotions.

I also liked the author's coverage of the first and second Great Awakenings, and his discussion of the ministry of Charles Finney.

Yet there are a few things which keeps this from being the best history of preaching text that money can buy. There is virtually nothing in the book about the preaching of the Old Testament prophets and the preaching found in the New Testament. Edwards feels that the sermon bits that are found in the book of Acts are more reflective of the artistry of Luke than they are a reflection of the preachers themselves. He apparently feels that way about the preaching attributed to Jesus.

Secondly, Edwards devotes almost a third of the book to preaching from the 19th and 20th centuries, yet he completely sidesteps Pentecostal preaching, Latin-American preaching, and expository preaching. There is nothing about D.L Moody and Ira Sankey, nothing about Alexander Maclaren, nothing about F.B Meyer, and nothing about Bishop JC Ryle, and hardly anything at all about the revival preaching of Billy Sunday.

And incredible as it may seem, O.C Edwards completely ignores radio preaching. There is no mention of Through the Bible with J. Vernon Mcgee, no mention of Chuck Swindoll (who has been preaching over the airwaves for 30 years), no mention of Joyce Meyer, and get this, no mention of the venerable Bishop TD Jakes, no mention of Tony Evans and no mention of .

There is also no mention of the great Scottish preachers, such as Alexander Whyte, and no mention of the tremendous revivals going on in South Korea, which is home to the largest churches in Christian history.

Also, there is a very small reference to Rick Warren, who has probably influenced more pastors worldwide than any other preacher.

Instead, OC Edwards focuses most of his attention on liberal preachers, social gospel preachers, women preachers, and unitarian preachers. This would not be so bad of he had given equal time to evangelical preachers, who have arguably had just as big of an impact. When you get to this section of the book, you start to realize that the author of this book has an agenda: To give a mainline Protestant, politically correct perspective on the history of preaching.

One good thing about the last 200 years that Edwards covers is that he gives a good look into African-American Preaching. However, he criticizes the recently deceased Samuel Proctor for not contributing anything uniquely African-American to the science of homiletics. I wanted to say, "Excuse me? Should this preacher be criticized for not being ethnic enough? Can't we appreciate Proctor as a preacher without having to relate his ministry to his skin tone?"

Another problem that I have is that Edwards completely ignores another recent work on the history of preaching written by David Larsen. Even though Larsen's book is a treasure trove of information and is just as big as Edwards' tome, Edwards doesn't dialogue with it at all and makes no mention of it when he speaks of the need for an up to date primer on the history of preaching.

In a nutshell, the book is a slanted, subjective look at the history of preaching from the liberal side of the church. I recommend that if you read it, that it is read in conjunction with David Larsen's book The Company of the Preachers, which covers the history of preaching from a more evangelical perspective. Get both sides of the story.
Must-read for all serious preachers  Sep 20, 2005
This work is monumental--879 pages, plus a rich collection of primary sources on CD-ROM. But it is also engrossing. Edwards writes with the fluidity of a storyteller in love with his story. Essentially, Edwards has produced a history of Christianity as told through the story of its preaching.
Although Edwards pays appropriate attention to the preachers one would expect to encounter in such a history, his concern is less with the individuals than with the preaching itself: "...what the sermons of an era had in common rather than how they differed...what preachers of a period thought they were accomplishing in the pulpit...and the strategy of persuasion they used to achieve that end...when there had been major shifts and why those had occurred."
Edwards intentionally limited the scope of his work to English language preaching and its antecedents. Although he brings the history up to the 20th century, he does not really deal with the challenges of multi-culturalism in contemporary North America, or deal fully with the preaching in the electronic and emerging church. But this is a history, and it may be too soon to try and evaluate contemporary currents, or predict how they might fit into the long trajectories Edwards tries to trace.
Any teacher of preaching, and anyone wishing to get a serious grip on the history of preaching and the history of the church should own this book and refer to it often.
A remarkable new history of preaching  Jan 18, 2005
Edwards has provided the first major, comprehensive history of preaching since Dargan's two-volume work of a century ago. Anyone with a serious interest in the study of preaching will look forward to working through this massive (879 pages) volume.

Rather than focus on the lives of individual preachers - as so many historical works attempt to do - Edwards seeks to understand broader movements within homiletics. He writes out of a mainline Protestant perspective (as an Episcopalian priest and professor), and his treatment of the twentieth century reflects that perspective, with little to say about evangelical preaching beyond Billy Graham, televangelists and megachurches (a discussion based on Willow Creek). Nevertheless, preachers who want to better understand the great tradition within which they stand will not want to miss this remarkable volume.

Michael Duduit
Editor, Preaching magazine

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