I’ve been teaching in our church’s sunday school a “Second Level” Hermeneutics course, focusing on Genre.
I found this book to be helpful, and wished I read it earlier.
In “Preaching with Variety”, Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs writes about how to have variety in one’s preaching. It is not however, a book which talks about changing the way expository preaching is done per se nor is it introducing some new preaching fad, but rather it is an emphasis of how varieties in preaching can be accomplished biblically by faithfully preaching on the various literary forms (genres) found within Scripture. Arthurs made it clear in his introductory chapter that he believes preaching must herald God’s Word or otherwise it is not preaching.
At first, to preach with variety might not seem like a big deal, but Arthurs gives at least three reasons this is important. It is important because the listener would benefit from hearing something different. The preacher could also break the monotony with the routine of preaching. More importantly, Scripture itself comes in a variety of genres. In the book’s survey of genres found in the Bible, I found the chapters on poetry, narratives and apocalypse to be the most useful.
In the chapter on the Psalms, Arthurs was helpful in showing how to apply parallelism in the preaching process. Though I have been familiar with the various kinds of parallelism that exists within Hebrew poetry, I benefited with how he brought out some of the practical implications in identifying the various kinds of parallelism. For instance, previously a synonymous parallelism was to me just a poetic relationship between two lines, where the second line repeats the first line in a different fashion. Arthurs points out how the idea in the second line is doing more than just repeating the first line, but rather it adds an intensifying sense to the text (43-44). The chapter also makes the point that organizing our sermon with parallelism structure is appropriate when we want to intensify the message (57).
Arthurs also offer some great insight when it comes to narrative. I learned that in the Hebrew, the word for “Behold” often indicate an omniscient point of view by the narrator (79). In the sermon preparation process, the preacher ought to be aware of the different point of view being given from the text. There were ample amount of examples of how to preach from narrative text given, and these instances also made the chapter a great read for spiritual edification.
Something I have never thought about before concerning apocalyptic genre, was Arthurs insight of how this genre has the flavor from other genres: Apocalyptic genre is poetic and also has the characteristics of rough narrative. While acknowledging the difficulties in preaching from apocalyptic passages, Arthur’s approach makes the task of interpreting Apocalyptic genre a bit less intimidating and “Gnostic”.
A final comment concerning the entirety of the book was that it was useful that each of the chapters on Biblical genre ends with a checklist of the principles taught. This allows a preacher to glance over the principles discussed in the book, after the book is done and the preacher is working on his sermon.