Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review - Preaching by Ear: Speaking God's Truth from the Inside Out - by Dave McClellan with Karen McClellan

This is a book a good friend of mine already read to me in the pages of his life. In our day to day conversations and meals together he is open about his struggles and how the Gospel speaks to him. So when he preaches Sunday morning, I know he is retelling me how the passage of the day spoke to and changed him. He has read the text, he has wrestled with the text using all his hermeneutical skills. He is telling me the Gospel story from the inside out. This is one way to quickly summarize the book.

This book is not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile read for those who do any kind of public speaking or teaching.  The author spends a good deal of the book developing the case that there is something unique about the sounds of the spoken word that resonates with the way the Bible was delivered by God and the prophets and Apostles.

The book is divided into two parts: Preparing the Preacher and Developing an Orally Based Model of Preaching. In Part One he introduces us to several key people active in teaching rhetoric; St Augustine, Aristotle, and Roman educator Quintilian. The premise being developed is that the written word is an efficient way of recording what was spoken, but that the written word has different purposes than the spoken word. Therefore, preparation for an oral presentation of the truth needs to conceived and grown in a different way than one would prepare something for reading. He presents this methodology in detail in Part Two.

In Part Two we are introduced to Jesuit scholar Walter Ong. Chapter’s 7 and 8 get down to where the rubber meets the road and the author spells out the method he uses for preparing a sermon.  Instead of the typical 5 step literary process usually used in sermon preparation, he proposes more time be spent recreating and verbalizing the flow of thought in the text for today’s audience. Significant time should be spent in internalizing the text for yourself and then attempting to articulate that insight for the audience at hand.  In some sense the sermon is not done until it is delivered, until the words are spoken and shaped in the context of a listening congregation.

I think the author is on to something. The most effective messages I have heard, are the ones where the preacher or speaker has really wrestled with articulating the flow of thought in the text itself, and was practiced in the expression of it. I would recommend this book to those who preach or are training to preach. And it would be a good read for a Bible teacher who does a lot of directed Bible studies. 

I received this resource for free from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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