A History of Preaching, Volume 2

A History of Preaching, Volume 2

by Jr. O.C. Edwards


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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.

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.

Volume 2 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.

Volume 1, available separately as 9781501833779, 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from its Hellenistic and Jewish roots in the New Testament, through the late-twentieth century's discontent with outdated forms and emphasis on new modes of preaching such as narrative.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.

"...'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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501833786
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 03/31/2016
Pages: 682
Sales rank: 989,208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.44(d)

About the Author

O. C. Edwards is an historian and Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He also served as President and Dean of that school. He is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.

Read an Excerpt

A History of Preaching: Volume 2

By O. C. Edwards Jr.

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2004 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-3378-6


The Earliest Christian Preaching


This sermon represents a type of rabbinic preaching more like early Christian preaching than any other form of synagogue sermon. It is not known, however, whether this particular sermon was ever preached, since it is preserved in a collection of sermons edited to answer questions about the correct observance of Jewish law. The collection, not edited until after the sixth century of the Common Era, is called Tanchuma, the Hebrew text of which has been edited by Martin Buber. This sermon appears in the section called parasha Noah, chapter 13. It is translated in William Richard Stegner, "The Ancient Jewish Synagogue Homily," in Greco-Roman Literature and the New Testament, ed. David E. Aune, SBL Sources for Biblical Study, no. 21 (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1988), 60-62. See Vol. 1, pp. 8-11, for discussion.

"And Noah began (to be) a man of the soil." (Gen. 9:20) As soon as he busied himself with the soil he became prladelphia: Fortress, 198ofane (as opposed to sacred). Said rabbi Yehudah son of rabbi Shalom, "In the beginning (Noah was) a man righteous and pure, but now (he is) a man of the soil." "He planted a vineyard" (Gen 9:20b). After he planted a vineyard, he was called "a man of the soil."

Three men busied themselves with the soil and became profane. These were Cain, Noah, Uzziah. Concerning Cain, Scripture says (Gen 4; 2) "... and Cain (was) a tiller of the soil." What else does Scripture say? "... you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."

Concerning Noah, scripture says, "And Noah began (to be) a man of the soil." "He planted a vineyard," and he exposed himself. "And he drank of the vine...." (Gen 9:21a).

The sages said, "On that day he planted, on that day it produced fruit, on that day he cut (grapes), on that day he treaded (grapes), on that day he drank, on that day he became drunk, on that day his disgrace was exposed."

Our rabbis of blessed memory said, "When Noah came to plant a vineyard, Satan came and stood before him. Satan said to him, 'What are you planting?' He said to him, 'A vineyard.' Satan said to him, 'What kind of vineyard?' Noah replied, 'Its fruits are sweet, neither too green nor too ripe, and they make from them wine which gladdens hearts, as Scripture says (Ps 104:15) 'and wine to gladden the heart of man.' Satan said to him, 'Come and let the two of us join together in this vineyard.' Noah replied, 'To life!' What did Satan do? He brought a sheep and killed it under the vine. After that he brought a lion and killed it there. Then he brought a pig and killed it and after that he brought an ape and killed it under the vineyard. Their blood dripped into that vineyard which absorbed their blood. Thus Satan hinted that before a man drinks wine, he is as pure as this lamb that knows nothing and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb. When he drinks a normal amount, he is a strong man like a lion and says that there is none like him in the world. After he has drunk too much he becomes like a pig soiled in his own urine and in something else. When he is drunk, he becomes like an ape, standing and dancing and laughing and bringing forth obscenities before everyone and he doesn't know what he is doing. And all this happened to Noah the righteous man. What? (Did all this happen to) Noah the righteous one whose praise the Holy One Blessed Be He proclaimed? What then of the rest of humanity? How much the more (might happen to them)!"

There is more, for Noah cursed his offspring and said, "Cursed be Canaan: etc." (Gen 9:25) And Ham, because he saw with his eyes the nakedness of his father, his eyes became red. And because he told (about it) with his mouth, his lips became curled. And because he turned his face, the hair on his head and his beard was singed. And because he did not cover the nakedness, he walked naked and his foreskin grew back over his circumcision. According to all the measure of the Holy One Blessed Be He (he received) measure for measure.

Nevertheless, the Holy One Blessed Be He turned and had mercy on him, for his mercy is upon all his creation. The Holy One Blessed Be He said, "Since he sold himself into slavery, let him go out by the eye which saw and by the mouth which told." It is right that he shall go out to freedom by tooth and by eye for Scripture says (Exod 21:26), "When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free for the eye's sake." And further (Exod 21:27), "If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free for the tooth's sake."

And is it not a matter of light and heavy (that is, as with human affairs, so with God's)?

If (in terms of human affairs) a man's slave, his property and wealth, because he blinded his eye and knocked out his tooth, will go out from slavery to freedom (in this life), then (in terms of God's dealings), those blessed by God, who are His plantation to be glorified, when they die, is it not so much more proper that they will go to freedom from sins, as Scripture says, "in death, he is free"; indeed, they will go out with all 248 parts of the body (in the Resurrection they became whole). The Holy One Blessed Be He said, "In this world through the evil inclination they multiply sins, but in the world to come 'I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone....'" (Ezek 36:26c). Again Scripture says, "And it shall never again be the reliance of the house of Israel, recalling their iniquity, when they turn to them for aid. Then they will know that I am the Lord God." (Ezek 29:16) And Scripture says, "In those days and in that time, says the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none." (Jer 50:20)

Concerning Uzziah, scripture says, "for he loved the soil." (II Chron 26:10). For he was king, and he busied himself with the soil and he did not busy himself with Torah. One day he entered the house of study and said to the rabbis, "With what are you preoccupied?" They said to him, (Num 1:51) "And if anyone else (that is, a lay person) comes near, he shall be put to death." Uzziah said to them, "The Holy One Blessed Be He is a King and I am a king, it is proper for a king to serve a King and to offer incense in his presence." Then, he "entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense." (II Chron 26:16) But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor." (II Chron 26:17) And all of them were young priests. "And (they) said to him, 'It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary; for you have done wrong....'" (II Chron 26:18) And for this he became angry. "Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests leprosy broke out on his forehead...." (26:19) And at the same time the hall was split open this way and the other way twelve upon twelve mil (more than half a mile). "And they thrust him out quickly, and he himself hastened to go out, because the Lord had smitten him." (II Chron 26:20b) Who caused this to happen to him? He neglected the Torah and busied himself with the soil!


This sermon comes from around C.E. 165 and is the second oldest Christian sermon we have, an interpretation of Exodus 12 as a type of the death and resurrection of Christ. It was preached at an all-night vigil on the Jewish Passover in a city that had a much larger Jewish than Christian population. Its style is the Asianic rhetoric of the Second Sophistic, which employed Gorgian figures. In style it was a precursor of much in Christian homilies and liturgy. Richard A. Norris Jr.'s translation appears in the volume he edited and translated, The Christological Controversy, Sources of Early Christian Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980), 33-47. See Vol. 1, pp. 17-21, for discussion.

The passage dealing with the Hebrew Exodus has been read out and the words of the mystery have been explained: how the sheep is sacrificed and how the people is saved. So then, my beloved friends, open your minds to understand. Here is the way in which the mystery of the Passover is new and old, eternal and involved in time, corruptible and incorruptible, mortal and immortal.

It is old according to the Law, but new according to the Word. By being figure it is involved in time, but by being grace it is eternal. As the slaughter of a sheep it is corruptible; as the life of the Lord it is incorruptible. Because of the burial in the ground it is mortal, but because of the resurrection from the dead it is immortal. The Law is old but the Word is new. The figure belongs to a particular time, but the grace is eternal. The sheep is corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible. As lamb he is slaughtered, but as God he is risen. For though "like a sheep he was carried away to slaughter" [Isa. 53:7], yet he was no sheep; and though like a lamb he was "dumb," yet he was no lamb. For the one, the figure, was there, but the other, the reality, was uncovered.

For in place of the lamb, God appeared, and in place of the sheep a human being, and within the human being, the Christ, who contains all things.

So the slaughter of the sheep and the solemnity of the Passover and the scripture of the Law have arrived at Christ, for whose sake everything came to pass in the old Law, as it does all the more in the new Word. For the Law became Word and the old, new — issuing together out of Zion and Jerusalem. And the commandment became grace, and the figure became reality, and the lamb became the Son, and the human being became God. For as Son he was born, as lamb he was carried off, as sheep he was slaughtered, as human being he was buried. He rose from the dead as God, being by nature both God and a human being.

He is everything: Law inasmuch as he judges, Logos inasmuch as he teaches, grace inasmuch as he saves, Father inasmuch as he begets, Son inasmuch as he is begotten, sheep inasmuch as he suffers, human inasmuch as he is buried, God inasmuch as he rises. This is Jesus the Christ, "to whom be glory to all the ages. Amen."

Such is the mystery of the Passover, as it is written in the Law and as it was read just a moment ago. I will now review in detail what the text says: how God gave a command to Moses in Egypt when he wanted to bind Pharaoh by a plague while freeing Israel from the plague by Moses' hand.

"For behold," he says, "you shall take a faultless and unblemished lamb, and, as evening comes, you together with the sons of Israel shall slaughter it, and at night you shall consume it in haste and you shall break none of its bones" [Ex. 12:lff.]. "This is what you shall do," he says. "You shall eat it in one night gathered in families and in tribes. Your loins will be girded and your staves shall be in your hands. For this is the Lord's Passover, an eternal remembrance for the sons of Israel. Then take the blood of the sheep and smear the porches of your homes, placing the sign of blood on the uprights of the entrance to deter the angel. For behold, I smite Egypt; and in the space of one night, she will be deprived of offspring, from beast to human being." Then when Moses had slaughtered the sheep and carried out the mystery at night together with the sons of Israel, he sealed the doors of their homes as a safeguard for the people and a deterrent to the angel.

So as the lamb is slaughtered and the Passover eaten and the mystery accomplished and the people is glad and Israel sealed, then the angel arrived to smite Egypt — Egypt uninitiated into the mystery, having no part in the Passover, unsealed with the blood, unprotected by the Spirit — this enemy, this unbelieving Egypt he smote and in one night deprived her of offspring. For when the angel had passed about Israel and seen that the people were sealed with the blood of the sheep, it came upon Egypt and tamed the stiff-necked Pharaoh with sorrow, having put about him not a garment of mourning or a mantle torn in shreds but the whole of Egypt torn to pieces, sorrowing for her firstborn. For the whole of Egypt, in hardship and calamity, in tears and lamentations, came all in mourning to Pharaoh — mourning not only in aspect, but also in her soul, torn not only in outward vesture but also on her delicate breasts. There was a new spectacle to see: on the one hand, people striking (themselves), on the other, people wailing; and in their midst a mourning Pharaoh, seated in sackcloth and ashes, surrounded by a tangible darkness like funeral garb — girded by all of Egypt, itself a cloak of mourning.

For Egypt lay around Pharaoh like a vesture of mourning. Such was the cloak which was woven for the tyrant's body. This is the kind of garment in which the angel of justice dressed the harsh Pharaoh: bitter mourning and tangible darkness and childlessness. And the angel went on in its campaign against Egypt's firstborn, for the death of the firstborn was rapid and tireless. One could see a new trophy raised up over those who had fallen dead in one attack. And the ruin of those who lay about gave death something to feed on. And if you pay attention, you will discover a new and unheard-of misfortune to marvel at. For look what enveloped the Egyptians: a long night and tangible darkness, and death groping its way about, and an angel oppressing, and Hades devouring their firstborn.

But there is something yet stranger and more awesome for you to hear. In this tangible darkness, death was hiding untouchable, and the unfortunate Egyptians probed the darkness; but death, searching them out, touched the firstborn of the Egyptians at the angel's order. So if anyone probed the darkness he was led away by death.

If a firstborn child grasps a shadowy body with his hand, he cries out pitiably and fearfully with fright in his soul, "Whom is my hand holding? Whom is my soul afraid of? What darkness is it that encompasses my whole body? If you be my father, help me! If my mother, share my pain! If my brother, address me! If my friend, be well-disposed! If my enemy, depart! For I am a firstborn." But before the firstborn had fallen silent, the great silence seized him as it said, "You belong to me, firstborn. I, the silence of death, am your fate." Another of the firstborn, observing that the firstborn were being taken, denied who he was, lest he die bitterly. "I am not a firstborn. I was born the third fruit of my mother's womb." But [the angel] could not be deceived. He seized the firstborn, who fell face down in silence. In one fell swoop the firstborn of the Egyptians perished. The first conceived, the firstborn, the desired one, the pampered one, was beaten to the ground — the firstborn not only of human beings but also of the irrational animals.

On the fertile plains of the land there was heard a murmuring of beasts lamenting their nurslings, for the cow with a calf and the mare with a colt and the other beasts who were giving birth and swollen with milk were lamenting their firstborn offspring bitterly and pitiably. There went up a wailing and a lamentation because of the destruction of the human [children], the dead firstborn. For the whole of Egypt stank because of the unburied corpses. That was a fearsome sight to see: the mothers of the Egyptians with their hair in disarray, the fathers distracted, all wailing aloud terribly in their own speech, "In one fell swoop we unfortunates have been deprived of our children, even our firstborn offspring." And they beat their breasts, striking instruments with their hands as they did the dance of the dead.


Excerpted from A History of Preaching: Volume 2 by O. C. Edwards Jr.. Copyright © 2004 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Preface to Volume 2,
Part I: Homiletical Origins,
Chapter 1: The Earliest Christian Preaching,
Chapter 2: The Homily Takes Shape,
Chapter 3: Eloquence in Cappadocia,
Chapter 4: Homiletics and Catechetics,
Chapter 5: Augustine, the Sign Reader,
Part II: The Middle Ages,
Chapter 6: The Trek to the Middle Ages,
Chapter 7: The Early Medieval Period,
Chapter 8: The Renaissance of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,
Chapter 9: The Explosion of Preaching in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries,
Chapter 10: A Homiletic Miscellany,
Part III: From the Renaissance and Reformation to the Enlightenment,
Chapter 11: Erasmus and the Humanists,
Chapter 12: The Reformation Preaching of Luther and Melanchthon,
Chapter 13: Calvin and the Reform Tradition,
Chapter 14: The Preaching of Catholic Reform,
Chapter 15: Upheaval in Britain,
Part IV: The Modern Era: From the Restoration to World War I,
Chapter 16: The Dawn of Modernity (A): The Restoration and the Age of Reason,
Chapter 17: The Dawn of Modernity (B): The Recovery of Feeling,
Chapter 18: American Reveille,
Chapter 19: The Second Call,
Chapter 20: "The Fruits of Fervor" (A): The Social Implications of Gospel Preaching,
Chapter 21: "The Fruits of Fervor" (B): "Your Daughters Shall Prophesy",
Chapter 22: The Preaching of Romanticism in Britain,
Chapter 23: Transatlantic Romanticism,
Chapter 24: The Triumph of Romanticism,
Part V: The Century of Change,
Chapter 25: Pastoral Counseling through Preaching,
Chapter 26: The Resurgence of Orthodoxy,
Chapter 27: Preaching as an Element of Worship,
Chapter 28: A Homiletical Epiphany: The Emergence of African American Preaching in Majority Consciousness,
Chapter 29: Mainstream Prophecy,
Chapter 30: A Great Company of Women,
Chapter 31: Evangelism in an Electronic Age,
Chapter 32: A Crisis in Communication,
Scripture Index,
Subject Index,

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