Dec 21, 2019

The Latest Issue of the Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Richard J. Bautch and Mark Lackowski, eds., On Dating Biblical Texts to the Persian Period: Discerning Criteria and Establishing Epochs
Reviewed by Marvin A. Sweeney

Colleen M. Conway, John and the Johannine Letters
Reviewed by Judith M. Lieu

Richard Elliott Friedman, The Exodus
Reviewed by Bryan D. Estelle

Ida Fröhlich, ed., David in Cultural Memory
Reviewed by Walter Dietrich

Christoph Koch, Gottes himmlische Wohnstatt: Transformationen im Verhältnis von Gott und Himmel in tempeltheologischen Entwürfen des Alten Testaments in der Exilszeit
Reviewed by Martin Leuenberger

Sung Jin Park, Typology in Biblical Hebrew Meter: A Generative Metrical Approach
Reviewed by Donald R. Vance

Daniel Patte, Romans: Three Exegetical Interpretations and the History of Reception
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Kenneth M. Wilson, Augustine’s Conversion from Traditional Free Choice to “Non-free Free Will”: A Comprehensive Methodology
Reviewed by Evgenia Moiseeva

Dec 20, 2019

Review of A Manual for Preaching

Abraham Kuruvilla, A Manual for Preaching: The Journey from Text to Sermon (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019).

The author, Abraham Kuruvilla, is well-regarded for his work in homiletical theory and methodology. As an author, teacher, and practitioner of preaching, he is well-suited to write the volume under consideration.
This manual contains nine logically-arranged chapters sandwiched between an introduction and conclusion. It moves from “getting ready” (chp. 1) to “delivering sermons” (chp. 9). The reader is taken from text to sermon methodologically and the process is demonstrated by Kuruvilla with passages from Genesis and Ephesians. There are also four appendices that help to unpack select concepts.

Overall, the volume is a bit more technical than some standard preaching texts. The reader will have to pay close attention to fully-appreciate its contributions. But thankfully, the author is careful in defining, explaining, and illustrating his points. For example, Kuruvilla defines biblical preaching as “Biblical preaching, by a leader of the church, in a gathering of Christians for worship, is the communication of the thrust of a periscope of Scripture discerned by theological exegesis, and of its application to that specific body of believers, that they may be conformed to the image of Christ, for the glory of God—all in the power of the Spirit” (p. xiv). One might not agree with the definition but there should be little confusion about what the author means. Preaching veterans and novices will benefit from the sage advice that is sprinkled throughout. Concerning the tendency to chase theological rabbits, Kuruvilla, advises, “Be discriminating. Keep asking, right from the start, “Will knowing this help me discern the doing of the author? Do I need to know this to apply the text?” (p. 34). More than one sermon has been waylaid because this important point was not heeded. Later he reminds us that “simplicity always wins” (p. 227). The humor (usually of the dry variety) was another feature of this book that I enjoyed.

In a book like this, there will typically be definitions, concepts, and advice that will generate disagreement. I suspect that some will find Kuruvilla’s approach too technical and process too mechanical. Others will not appreciate his views regarding the biblical languages (pp. 9-10). Concepts and terms like pericopal theology, Christiconic, and theological focus are likely to generate healthy debate. His challenge of the popular “big idea” approach (app. 1) has and will continue to produce lively discussions.

But in sum, Kuruvilla has gifted the preaching community with a volume that has the potential to produce better and more biblically-faithful preachers. This should be worth celebrating even if one might have to occasionally spit out a seed before enjoying the fruit.

You can access a PDF excerpt here.

Much thanks to Baker Academic for providing the copy used in this unbiased review.

Dec 19, 2019

The Pew Research Center on Christian Sermons in America

The Pew Research Center has published some very interesting finds about Christian sermons here. The data examined the transcribed texts of 49,719 online sermons from 6,431 churches preached between April 7 and June 1, 2019. The findings conclude that,

  • Sermon length varies across religious traditions,
  • Sermons share common language, but some terms are distinctive,
  • Most sermons mention books from both Old and New Testaments,
  • Smaller churches are more likely to cite books of Old Testament by name.

The article includes helpful visuals such as this one.





Dec 18, 2019

A Song for Every Psalm

According to this story, Christian folk band Poor Bishop Hooper is planning to release a song a week related to each of the psalms in the book of Psalms.It will take almost three years. I am looking forward to hearing this develop.

Dec 17, 2019


Unlike a lot of things seen on Facebook, this is truth. 

Dec 16, 2019

A Better Way to Learn Hebrew and Greek Vocabulary

This is a very insightful and helpful post on rethinking how we teach and learn vocabulary in the study of Hebrew and Greek.