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Wholly Scripture: Preaching Biblical Themes [Paperback]

By Ronald J. Allen (Author)
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Item description for Wholly Scripture: Preaching Biblical Themes by Ronald J. Allen...

With many examples and exegetical insights, Ronald Allen explores the what, why, when, and how of biblical preaching. Adapting aspects of conventional exegesis, Allen shows preachers how to lay out a plan for preparing to preach on a biblical theme. He considers possibilities for preaching on themes in connection with the Revised Common Lectionary and in sermon series based on free selection. Included are four sermon samples and an extensive appendix of resources for developing sermons on themes from the Bible.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Chalice Press
Pages   134
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2004
Publisher   Chalice Press
ISBN  0827242476  
ISBN13  9780827242470  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ronald J. Allen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ronald J. Allen is Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He is author of many books, including Patterns of Preaching and Interpreting the Gospel, and coauthor of One Gospel, Many Ears and Listening to Listeners, all from Chalice Press.

Ronald J. Allen currently resides in the state of Indiana. Ronald J. Allen was born in 1949.

Ronald J. Allen has published or released items in the following series...
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From Chalice Press:  Sep 22, 2005
With many examples and exegetical insights, the author explores the what, why, when, and how of biblical preaching. Adapting aspects of conventional exegesis, he shows preachers how to lay out a plan for preparing to preach on a biblical theme. He considers possibilities for preaching on themes in connection with the Revised Common Lectionary and in sermon series based on free selection. Included are four sermon samples and an extensive appendix of resources for developing sermons on themes from the Bible. The author proposes preaching biblical themes in order to assist congregations to see and hear the diverse and faithful witness of God's people to God's activity in and intention for the world and the church. He provides significant help in how such preaching can be done through careful exegetical work and theological reflection. He suggests ways such preaching can be accomplished in the context of the church year and the lectionary. He also is clear in helping preachers avoid potential pitfalls in such preaching. This is an evocative and stimulating homiletical resource.

Variations on a theme...  Jan 11, 2005
I once described Ron Allen, professor of preaching and New Testament at my seminary, as the 'Isaac Asimov of preaching texts', because he puts out such a number of texts, all of a consistent quality. So, here we are again, with Allen having produced another useful text, this one sure to appeal to seminarians and preachers in a wide variety of settings. 'Wholly Scripture' deals with preaching from biblical themes. According to Allen in his brief introduction, much of his experience as a preachers has been preaching on specific biblical passages individually, rather than developing wide-ranging sermons on more general themes. Allen states that this should still be 'the heart of weekly parish preaching' (drawing from his contribution to a collection of essays in honour of David Buttrick), but that there are times when a broader range is necessary, drawing the multiple voices of the biblical writers together on a particular theme.

Allen states that a biblical theme is somewhat difficult to define. It is not one of the traditional categories of biblical or homiletic scholarship. Themes may be developed through different means - combinations of people, places, narrative plots, images, feelings, practices, events, or more. Themes can be used a general holder (the shopping cart approach), used in a parabolic way, or used as a lens, rather like an optical triangle, that breaks the light of the biblical text into its various, different-hued viewpoints. Themes can be developed from single books of the Bible or across different texts; themes can be developed across certain types of literature (wisdom, apocalyptic, etc.) or through combinations and contrasts of these.

Allen writes that there are three primary questions to deal with in preaching with biblical themes - why, when, and how. Allen combines looking at the first two question (why and when) in one chapter, stating that these inter-related questions show the many needs of biblical thematic preaching. Preaching in this manner can help to overcome general biblical illiteracy (today's generation does not have the same kind of familiarity with biblical texts as some of the previous generations). Some occasions and some ideas call for drawing from more than one passage or story. Sometimes passages need to be balanced to give a greater understanding, to avoid misinterpretation, or to highlight stronger connections between the testaments. Thematic preaching can also help keep the preacher from possible misinterpretations, or keep the listeners from misinterpreting what they are hearing.

The rest of the book deals with the 'how' of developing sermons from biblical themes. One of the first tasks here (relevant for all preaching, and a theme constant in much of Allen's writing on preaching) is for the preacher to understand her or his own theological and social location and preconceptions. These will necessarily influence the way preachers develop and deliver their messages. Allen also explores ways to recognising biblical themes, arguing strongly for the need for resources such as Bible dictionaries, concordances, and other study material - these should be regular resources for any preacher, not just for seminary students. After the research and analysis is done, crafting the results into a form that is acceptable and understandable by the congregation.

Allen also addresses the question of how to preach biblical themes for those whose churches follow a lectionary cycle. Many mainline churches follow the Revised Common Lectionary, or something similar (the Episcopal church, for example, has a few points of variance, but largely follows the same sequence and pattern). Sometimes the various readings already lend themselves to particular themes, and sometimes sequences of readings over the course of a few weeks will seem to develop particular themes. Allen also shows how to develop sequences of sermons drawing from the same biblical text or different texts on the same general theme. Allen concludes by giving four sample sermons, each one developed according different thematic lines. My favourite of these is the sermon on the theme of 'God is with us', which develops from texts in both testaments, as well as the sermon on 'What can we believe about eternal life?' which relates to one of Allen's early experiences of dealing with the challenge of preaching from biblical themes.

Allen's appendix on resources is brief but useful. It includes website listings and major print publications for concordances and dictionaries. Allen marks his preferences with asterisks; unfortunately, many preachers will not be able to afford the sixteen-volume 'Encyclopedia Judaica' or even the six-volume 'Anchor Bible Dictionary', but these resources are often available through libraries; certainly one-volume concordances and dictionaries listed here are generally affordable and worthwhile. Allen also includes a select list of texts that are developed around particular themes by other biblical scholars and theologians.

Alas, there is no index, but the text is generally useful and well-organised such that the lack of an index is no great hardship here. Also, the text is relatively brief, with barely more than 100 pages of easily-read text; Allen seems to have figured out that preachers and students today rarely have the time to commit to lengthy tomes, however valuable. This text can be read in a short span of time, but is worth revisiting occasionally to reacquaint the preacher with ideas that will enrich the preaching experience both for preacher and congregation.


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