Beyond the Tyranny of the Text: Preaching in Front of the Bible to Create a New World

Beyond the Tyranny of the Text: Preaching in Front of the Bible to Create a New World

by James Henry Harris

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Preachers and students of preaching need help communicating hope! They want their sermons to communicate the promises of scripture, so that people can envision a new world in which their lives will be transformed. Preachers want to experience a new sense of freedom in their preaching, and to extend liberation based on their reading and interpretation of the scripture. 

James Henry Harris introduces interpretation theory and continental philosophy as a resource for preachers to resist and overcome interpretive oppression, and lays out a new theory of scriptural interpretation. He analyzes philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics as a helpful guide for modern preachers, and incorporates in his analysis of the lived experience of the Black church. Harris highlights the preaching of several 19th and 20th century Black women, including Jarena Lee, Maria Stewart, and Mary Evans. 

Beyond the Tyranny of the Text develops a five-part method for preaching that stretches from preparation to proclamation, and demonstrates how this method for interpretational creativity emerges from fidelity to the text. Harris demonstrates his method with sermonic exegesis of the Book of Jonah. With this new process of reading, rereading, un-reading, writing, and un-writing the text, the author offers wisdom and tools for reflection and illumination. 

At its core, Beyond the Tyranny of the Text challenges the field of homiletics and all preachers to un-write like Jesus Christ: to get in front of the text, to understand preparation and preaching as a creative and transformative enterprise. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501889073
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 429 KB

About the Author

James Henry Harris is the Distinguished Professor and Chair of Homiletics and Practical Theology and Research Scholar in Religion at the School of Theology, Virginia Union University and pastor of Second Baptist Church (West End), both in Richmond, VA.  He has a passion for teaching, preaching, and helping the poor and the oppressed.

He earned the Master of Arts in philosophical theology from the University of Virginia, the Master of Arts in English and African-American Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Master of Arts in philosophy from Old Dominion University where he also received the Ph.D. in Urban-Studies.  He earned the Doctor of Ministry degree in Preaching and African-American Church Studies from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH as a Samuel DeWitt Proctor/Charles Booth Fellow.

Harris has taught preaching at the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, the American Baptist Churches of the South, and for local churches and pastors. He has been a visiting professor of Homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, and currently teaches in the ACTS Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxiii


Method: How to Preach with Words 4

Go for Substance with Style 6

The Method: Reading as an Act of Love in the Dialectic of Practice 8

Re-reading as an Act of Faith in the Dialectic of Practice 9

Un-reading as an Act of Re-understanding and Appropriation 9

Writing as Reflective Transformative Thinking 12

Re-writing as Preaching the Sermon 12

Chapter 1 Reading-Preaching for Transformation

Getting in Front of the Text: Metaphor and Metonymy 15

JONAH I: "The Unwelcomed Word" 18

Getting in Front of the Text 20

Getting in Front of the Text: Possible Worlds 24

Reading the Text 27

Reading and Studying as Acts of Holiness-Requisites for Getting in Front of the Text 35

Jonah II: "Pursued by Greatness" 41

Chapter 2 Re-Reading-The Preacher as Poet and Writer of the Word

JONAH III: "Second Chances" 45

Getting in Front of the Text 49

The Poetry of Humiliation and Exaltation 51

The Poetic and the Aesthetic in the Life of Black Church Folk 53

The Divine Word-The Poetry and the Prophecy 58

The Poetic Flair of Seeing and Preaching the Word 62

JONAH IV: "From Defiance to Deliverance" 68

Chapter 3 UN-READING-From Sermon to Social Action

JONAH V: "Misplaced Anger" 71

Getting in Front of the Text 74

From Getting in Front of the Text To Action that Transforms 76

Sermon Point Development-The Body of the Sermon 78

The Word of God: Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword 82

Un-reading the Preaching Self and Other as Texts 84

Getting in Front of the Text 87

Love Builds Up, Knowledge Puffs Up 93

Preach Good News to the Oppressed 97

The Written, Oralized Sermon 101

JONAH VI: "The Mystery and the Miracle" 102

Interlude: First Writing/Preaching-Talking Back to the Devil

JONAH VII: "A Bigger Concern" 105

Talking Back to the Devil: Preaching Jesus Christ 107

JONAH VIII: "When God Answers Prayer" 110

A New Method of Homiletic Interpretation 112

JONAH IX: "When God Repents" 112

Chapter 5 Re-Writing/Preaching-A New Method of Interpretation

Preaching and Narrative 115

Self-Narrative Hermeneutics 117

Reading and Un-reading the Text 125

How to Un-read the Scripture Text 128

JESUS: Writing on the Ground and the Act of Un-reading 131

Appendix A Some Suggested Old Testament Texts for "Un-reading" 139

Appendix B Some Suggested New Testament Texts for "Un-reading" 147

Bibliography 151

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