Friday, August 4, 2017

High Points of "Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives"

Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives
Bibliotheca Sacra 154: 616 (1997): 410-435.  
[Steven D. Mathewson is Pastor, Dry Creek Bible Church, Belgrade, Montana, and Instructor of Biblical Languages, Montana Bible College, Bozeman, Montana.]

People like stories.  "They always remember the stories." 
Old Testament narratives, then, seem to provide an ideal fare for audiences who crave stories.
Craddock wants preachers to ask "why the Gospel should always be impaled upon the frame of Aristotelian logic" when a form, such as narrative, dictates otherwise.!6
The purpose of this article is to offer guidelines for understanding and proclaiming Old Testament narrative literature 

Hermeneutical Guidelines
Interact with a Story's Literary Art to Determine Its Meaning
Follow the Plot Development and Shape
Observe the Pace at Which the Story Unfolds
Focus on the Dialogue Embedded in the Story
Give Attention to the Development of Characters
Consider the Significance of Descriptive Details
Homiletical Guidelines
Preach Blocks of Narrative Large Enough to Communicate a Big Idea
Develop an Outline That Will Highlight the Story Line of the Narrative
Select the Vantage Point from Which to Tell the Story
Turn the Biblical Scenes into Pictures That Capture the Listeners' Imaginations
Hone Storytelling Skills
The following hermeneutical guidelines can help exegetes recapture the "mode of perception that was second nature to the original audiences."9
"The test is not whether literary analysis contributes to aesthetic appreciation (though that may be a significant by-product) but whether it advances understanding. Does it sharpen the ear and eye to the author's intentions?"14 
Bible expositors, then, must prepare to interact with the literary features of the text in order to discover a story's theological point. The following guidelines focus on the main literary features an exegete must pursue.
"Plot is the organizing force or principle through which narrative meaning is communicated. There must be events for there to be story; not random events but events that are connected, events that have design, that form a pattern—events that are 'plotted.'"20
Generally interpreters should look for the plot to unfold in this pattern:
1. Background (exposition)
2. Crisis (complication)
3. Resolution
4. Conclusion (denouement) such as to inspire or inform.24
"In general no information is included in the exposition which does not have a definite function in the development of action."26   
Narration time refers to "objective time outside" the narrative, while narrated time refers to "literary time inside it."34 
...what to include and what to omit, what to convey rapidly and on what to dwell at length, is closely bound up with the importance of the various subjects, the character of time as it is shaped within the narrative will be of great value in any attempt to analyze and interpret the narrative.36
Alter points out that verbs tend to dominate "biblical narration of the essential," and so, "at intervals we encounter sudden dense concentrations or unbroken chains of verbs, usually attached to a single subject, which indicate some particular intensity, rapidity, or a single-minded purposefulness of activity."40  
As is characteristic of Israel's narrative art, the speeches are of more interest and importance than the action."42 
"Conversations in biblical narrative are never precise and naturalistic imitations of real-life conversations. They are highly concentrated and stylized, are devoid of idle chatter, and all the details they contain are carefully calculated to fulfill a clear function."[43]
Statements made by characters provide insight into their traits
...conversation points to meaning. "Dialogue is made to carry a large part of the freight of meaning."44 
Two more features of speech deserve attention. First, direct speech set in formal verse often has a summarizing or ceremonial function, such as Hannah's speech in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Adam's outburst in Genesis 2:23.45 Second, in "contrastive dialogue" the contrasting speech of two characters accomplishes "differentiation," that is, a contrast between ideas or concepts.46                 
"Every story has a central character. This is simply one of the principles of selectivity and emphasis [employed by] storytellers."48 Literary scholars identify the following character types: protagonists (central characters), antagonists (forces arrayed against the central characters), and foils (characters who heighten the central character by providing a contrast or occasionally a parallel).49 
A variety of conventions contribute to the shaping of characters. The designations or names of characters reflect their nature, whether real or perceived. 
Names can contribute to the author's intent by giving opportunity for forming puns, creating irony, or highlighting character qualities.
 Perhaps the spotlight cast on the man's namelessness implied judgment: the one who refused to raise a name over the inheritance of his deceased kin deserves no name in the story."[63]
Often, though, a character's actions provide the main insight into his or her nature.
Old Testament narratives are also marked by a spare style.   In other words writers of Old Testament narrative do not paint scenes or describe characters as do writers such as Charles Dickens or John Grisham. As Sternberg suggests, elaborate descriptions "perform no other role than realistic fullness."67 But this is not the Bible's concern, according to Bar-Efrat.  Therefore every detail in biblical narrative merits attention. In most cases, Sternberg suggests, "epithet prefigures drama."69 
      Notice How the Story Uses the Technique of Repetition.
Whereas English prose eschews repetition... ancient Hebrew prose enjoys it. The verbatim repetition of a word, phrase, sentence, or set of sentences, or even the recurrence of words falling into the same semantic range can function to structure the story, to create atmosphere, to construct a theme or character, to emphasize a certain point to the reader, or to build suspense.70
... Hebrew narrative uses repetition economically, reserving it for those times when it is needed to make a significant rhetorical effect.73  Where does repetition occur? Sometimes a command or prophecy is cited at one point and then "closely followed by its verbatim fulfillment."74   ..."special attention should be paid to the differences which often exist between the first and second versions, such as addition, omission, expansion, summarization, changed order, and substitution."76   Repetition may also occur by means of a key word (leitwort).77 
Just as a lawyer's performance in the courtroom depends on hours of competent research and preparation, a preacher's effectiveness in the pulpit depends on hours of competent exegesis and study
...interaction with sources like Alter and Bar-Efrat hone an expositor's alertness to other features 
Meir Sternberg's tome, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, may require some wading; but expositors can benefit from his list of fifteen rhetorical devices through which the Bible shapes a reader's response to character and event.81 

... great preachers "have all worked as hard on presentation as they have on exegesis."82 
Old Testament narratives express meaning in larger blocks of material than do other genres in the Bible.  A preacher must make sure his selected unit contains a background, crisis, and resolution (and sometimes a separate conclusion).
...Greidanus explains, "The narrative form has to strike a delicate balance between simply narrating the story and providing explicit statements for right understanding."89  ... the details of the story are woven together to make a point, and all the points develop the central idea of the sermon.90
 three options 
Option One: Develop theological points that are developed from the "crisis" and "resolution" elements of the plot.
Option Two: Retell the story in a series of "moves" that lead to the big idea. This tactic is more subtle. Its effectiveness depends on an expositor's storytelling skills (see discussion below). Instead of proceeding from "point one" to "point two," the sermon unfolds in a series of what Buttrick calls "moves."94 In a sermon on a narrative passage the various "moves" will consist of scenes in the story, as well as an eventual discussion of the narrative's central idea. 
Option Three: Retell the story in a series of "moves" that lead to the big idea and then return to the story to explore the big idea at length. 
...preachers can develop a big idea not only by validation but also by explanation (which answers the question, What does this mean?) or by application (which answers the question, So what? What difference does this make?).96
a third-person perspective.
However, many preachers effectively proclaim narratives by using a dramatic monologue in which they tell the story through the eyes of a character in the story.98   In this kind of narration, the preacher becomes the character and presents the action and dialogue strictly from the perspective of that character.  Not only must the preacher be viable dramatically, but he or she also must be true to the story in which the character takes part.99
Sometimes, though, an expositor may wish to preach the story through the eyes of a minor character.  In a first-person narrative an introduction should raise the readers' interest and orient them to the sermon's subject. The preacher may choose someone else to relate the introduction he has prepared. Or the preacher may share the introduction himself. To introduce the character, the preacher should make the final statement in the introduction, pause, and then perhaps bow his head. When he lifts his head, he assumes his role as the character
...a preacher should be able to tell the story without notes. Preachers who insist on notes should condense them to a page or two and place them on the pulpit before giving the sermon.
Also preachers should be aware of their movements on the platform.   As a general rule, the closer you are to your audience, the stronger the impression you will make. The farther away you are, the more remote you will seem. As you face the audience, scenes played to your right (stage right) will tend to be warmer emotionally, while scenes played to your left (stage left) will tend to be cooler.102
..."If the pulpit becomes a stage, and a robe or suit is exchanged for a costume, the preacher runs the risk of acting rather than preaching."103
Wiersbe states that "a balanced ministry of the Word requires both concept and image,"104 and Osborne counsels, "Paint pictures that will capture the imagination and help motivate the congregation in the direction of the sermonic goal."105   Preachers need to engage readers in the story with sensory details.  Painting scenes like this requires ample historical-cultural research...109 
Imagination can degenerate into fantasy and, in an effort to tell a good story, a preacher can scuttle or trivialize the biblical material. Imagination must be linked to the text just as interpretation must be tied to the text. 
Good images also result from precise vocabulary. ...preachers should cultivate a suspicion of adjectives and adverbs and instead use lively verbs and colorful nouns.113
 Two strategies will enable preachers to hone such skills.
Strategy One: Read a wide variety of stories. 
Strategy Two: Study sermons that demonstrate a mastery of the storyteller's craft. 
"We should not do poorly what the Bible does so well."121


[1] John C. Holbert, Preaching Old Testament: Proclamation and Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991), 17.
[2] This analogy comes from Haddon W. Robinson, who originally applied it to expounding parables (Biblical Sermons [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989], 168).
[3] An example is MacArthur's answer to a question on why he preaches predominantly from the New Testament (John MacArthur Jr., "Frequently Asked Questions about Expository Preaching," in Rediscovering Expository Preaching, ed. John MacArthur Jr. [Dallas, TX: Word, 1992], 341-42). David C. Deuel, writing in the same volume, offers a needed corrective: "Using Old Testament narrative only to illustrate New Testament teaching, however, results in ignoring much Old Testament instruction that may serve as background for New Testament theology, or else as teaching not repeated in the New Testament. Creation, law, and covenant are in Old Testament narrative which, if ignored or used for illustrations only, will create many problems of biblical imbalance. An adequate theological framework must include the whole Old Testament (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16, 'All Scripture...)" ("Expository Preaching from Old Testament Narrative," in Rediscovering Expository Preaching, 283 [italics his]).
[4] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 100-101.
[5] Cited by Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 18.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic, 1981); Shimon Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible (Sheffield: Almond, 1989); Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Sheffield: Almond, 1983); and Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985).
[8] Greidanus' superb chapter on "Preaching Hebrew Narratives" devotes thirty-three pages to hermeneutical concerns and only seven pages to preaching guidelines, which are quite general (The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, 188-227). Similarly Deuel's treatment offers only general guidelines and, by the authors own admission, does not "deal comprehensively with characteristic features or methods of preaching biblical narrative" (Expository Preaching from Old Testament Narrative, 274). Cf. also Thomas G. Longs chapter on "Preaching on Narratives," in Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, ed. Thomas G. Long (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989), 66-86.
[9] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 62.
[10] Alter defines literary analysis as "discriminating attention to the artful use of language, to the shifting play of ideas, conventions, tone, sound, imagery, syntax, narrative viewpoint, compositional units, and much else" (ibid., 12).
[11] Ibid., 46.
[12] Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1991), 162.
[13] "Narrative is not as direct as didactic material, but it does have a theological point and expects the reader to interact with that message" (ibid., 172).
[14] John H. Stek, "The Bee and the Mountain Goat: A Literary Reading of Judges 4," in A Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Ronald F. Youngblood (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 54.
[15] Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, 67.
[16] Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 17. Berlin defines poetics as "an inductive science that seeks to abstract the general principles of literature from many different manifestations of those principles as they occur in actual literary texts" (ibid., 15).
[17] Erich Auerbach, Mimesis, trans. Willard Trask (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1953), 12.
[18] Dale Patrick and Allen Scult, Rhetoric and Biblical Interpretation (Sheffield: Almond, 1990), 29. "Primary rhetoric" refers to discourses that use stylistic resources to persuade, whereas "secondary rhetoric" refers to texts that use stylistic resources to create an effect on an audience such as to inspire or inform.
[19] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[20] David M. Gunn and Danna Nolan Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 100.
[21] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[22] Ibid., 94.
[23] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 173.
[24] Tremper Longman III provides a helpful diagram of plot structure in biblical narrative (Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987], 92). His diagram follows the same pattern suggested above, but he provides more details in the flow of the plot structure.
[25] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 111.
[26] Ibid., 114.
[27] For an analysis of Genesis 38 see Steven D. Mathewson, "An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38," Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (October-December 1989): 373-92. Interpreters should be aware of the fluid changes between the elements of a plot. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the precise point at which one element stops and the next begins. For example does the background section of Genesis 38 end with verse 5 , 6 , or 10 ?
[28] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 121. Also see Longman, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, 92.
[29] Bar-Efrat calls this structure an "illusory conclusion". He writes, "In contrast toexamples, where the story line gradually rises to a climax and then descends rapidly to the serene conclusion, here the narrative does not end after the gradual ascent and the rapid decline, but rises once more to another pinnacle, only then descending to the genuine conclusion" (Narrative Art in the Bible, 124).
[30] Once again the fluid changes between plot elements make it difficult to determine if the crisis section ends with chapter 4 or extends into chapter 5 , where two more "mini-crises" transpire: Esther had to approach the king, and Haman built gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
[31] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 130-31. Also see Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 65.
[32] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 82. Ryken lists the following elements in literary comedy: disguise, mistaken identity, character transformation from bad to good, surprise, miracle, providential assistance to good characters, sudden reversal of misfortune, rescue from disaster, poetic justice, the motif of lost and found, reversal of conventional expectations, such as the preference of the younger child over the older, and sudden release.
[33] Ibid., 83.
[34] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 143.
[35] Ibid., 142.
[36] Ibid., 142-43.
[37] Mathewson, "An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38," 376-81. "The real action in the Judah-Tamar story begins at vs. 12ff . But for the reader to understand this extremely odd occurrence the narrator must first acquaint him with a few conditions" (Gerhard von Rad, Genesis, trans. John H. Marks [London: SCM, 1961], 352).
[38] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 6.
[39] Von Rad, Genesis, 355.
[40] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 80.
[41] Ibid., 65.
[42] Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel (Louisville: Knox, 1990), 133.
[43] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 148.
[44] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 37.
[45] Ibid., 28.
[46] Ibid., 72.
[47] Ibid.
[48] Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, 43.
[49] Ibid., 43, 54. Also see Berlin's discussion of full-fledged (round), type (flat), and agent characters in Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 23-32.
[50] See Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel (Louisville, Knox, 1990), 124-25. Herbert M. Wolf has suggested that 1 Samuel 15 through 2 Samuel 8 functions as a "dynastic defense," similar in structure and theme to the thirteenth-century B.C. Hittite dynastic defense, "Apology of Hattusilis" ("Implications of Form Criticism for Old Testament Studies," Bibliotheca Sacra 127 [October-December 1970]: 303-6). This strengthens the case for identifying the conflict in 1 Samuel 17 as primarily between Saul and David.
[51] Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel, 134.
[52] Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, 43.
[53] Ibid., 44. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
[54] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 36; cf. Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 59-60.
[55] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 37.
[56] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 330.
[57] Stek, "The Bee and the Mountain Goat: A Literary Reading of Judges 4," 53-86.
[58] Robert L. Hubbard, The Book of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 88.
[59] Hubbard, who has doubts about this interpretation of the names, provides a helpful summary of the arguments for and against it (ibid., 89-90).
[60] Ibid., 89.
[61] Unfortunately the meanings of "Ruth" and "Boaz," names of two prominent characters, have not been settled. The suggestions for the meaning of "Ruth" range from "refreshment/comfort" to "friendship," while "Boaz" is most likely related to "strength" (ibid., 94, 134-35).
[62] Ibid., 232.
[63] Ibid., 234-35.
[64] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 78.
[65] Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, 78.
[66] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 61, 129.
[67] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 329.
[68] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 195-96.
[69] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 342.
[70] Gunn and Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible, 148. Alter also attributes the use of repetition to the oral context in which the Bible was communicated, since its audience generally listened to rather than read the text (The Art of Biblical Narrative, 90).
[71] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 383.
[72] Ibid.
[73] Still, Sternberg cautions, "As with other fundamentals of biblical art, one must not expect each instance of repetition to unlock the secrets of the tale" (ibid., 439).
[74] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 90-91; cf. Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 161.
[75] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 162.
[76] Ibid.
[77] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 92.
[78] Ibid. Also see Berlin's comments on the slight inversion in the wording between the two laments (Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 75).
[79] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 93.
[80] For expositors with little background in Old Testament narrative, good entry-level resources include Greidanus' chapter on "Preaching Hebrew Narratives" in The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text; Osborne's chapter on "Narrative" in The Hermeneutical Spiral; and Ryken's chapters on the stories of the Bible in How to Read the Bible as Literature. Furthermore this writer recommends that every expositor who plans to preach Old Testament narrative literature read Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative and then Shimon Bar-Efrat's Narrative Art in the Bible.
[81] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 475-81. The fifteen rhetorical devices are
(1) narratorial evaluation of an agent or an action through a series of epithets (descriptions);
(2) the same through a single epithet;
(3) the same through a choice of loaded language;
(4) explicit judgment left ambiguous between narrator and characters;
(5) as in 1, 2, and 3, except that the judgment is delegated to characters;
(6) judgment through a nonverbal objective correlative;
(7) charged dramatization, lingering over and thus foregrounding the plot elements designed for judgment;
(8) informational redundancy;
(9) direct inside view of the characters;
(10) the play of perspectives;
(11) order of presentation;
(12) order of presentation involving the displacement of conventional patterns;
(13) analogical patterning;
(14) recurrence of key words along the sequence; and
(15) neutral or pseudo-objective narration.
[82] Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 362.
[83] Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, 196.
[84] Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 55.
[85] Deuel, "Expository Preaching from Old Testament Narrative," 281-84.
[86] Ibid., 275. By "story line" Deuel refers to the plot or general plan of a story.
[87] A deductive pattern begins with the general (conclusion) and then moves to the particulars, while an inductive pattern starts with the particulars and then arrives at the general (conclusion). Most narratives possess an inductive form since the main point does not emerge until the conflict in the story is resolved. In a deductive sermon the proposition or big idea is stated first; then it is developed. In an inductive sermon the big idea does not emerge until the end of the sermon. See Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 125-33.
[88] Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, 226.
[89] Ibid., 225. "Narratives seem most effective when the audience hears the story and arrives at the speakers ideas without his stating them directly" (Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 125).
[90] Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 124-25.
[91] Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, 225.
[92] James O. Rose, "The Big Valley," in Biblical Sermons, 51-63.
[93] For more examples of this kind of outlining, see Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988). This work serves as a guide to the study and exposition of Genesis. Ross provides an expository (central) idea and an expository outline for sixty-four preaching/teaching units in Genesis. These outlines consist of theological statements that are grounded in a sound literary analysis of the text. However, Ross' concern to derive the full exposition from the passage occasionally leads him to overdo his outlining. Sometimes he seems to make theological statements where the text is only relating background information.
[94] David Buttrick, Homiletic: Moves and Structures (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 23-24. Buttrick defines a "move" as a "rhetorical unit" or a "language module" that develops a "conceptual idea." Human conversation happens in a series of "moves" that are tied together by various logics. In a sermon, moves consist of a sequence of subject matters, or simple meanings, arranged in a structural design. The shape of a move is determined by the interaction of theological understanding, apologetic concerns, and images derived from life experiences. If preachers do not use images, ideas will remain abstract. It takes three or four minutes for a "move." With any less time the conceptual idea cannot be developed adequately; if more time is taken, listeners may lose interest.
[95] Technically, this makes Sunukjian's sermon deductive since the big idea is introduced at the outset. The telling of Esthers story validates the big idea. However, the fresh, imaginative telling of the story piques the listener's interest.
[96] Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 117-22.
[97] For a discussion of the various vantage points from which to tell a story, see Reg Grant and John Reed, Telling Stories to Touch the Heart (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 5052. See also John C. Holbert, Preaching Old Testament: Proclamation and Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991), 46-47.
[98] John MacArthur Jr. commits a logical fallacy when he dismisses drama in the pulpit as a whole by citing one bizarre example in which a speaker blatantly abused it ("Frequently Asked Questions about Expository Preaching," in Rediscovering Expository Preaching, 345). Competent expositors such as Haddon Robinson and Donald Sunukjian can effectively present more exegetical data (particularly historical/cultural information) in a dramatic sermon than they could if they told it as a detached narrator.
[99] Holbert, Preaching Old Testament, 46-47 (italics his).
[100] Donald Sunukjian, "A Night in Persia," in Biblical Sermons, 69-80.
[101] For the sermon manuscript, see ibid., 71-80.
[102] Grant and Reed, Telling Stories to Touch the Heart, 68. See pages 68-70 for a discussion of six stage areas and the dominant emotions they convey.
[103] Holbert, Preaching Old Testament, 47. Grant and Reed concur, though they point out that a carefully chosen prop, such as a shepherd's staff, a sword, a piece of pottery, or a slingshot (ancient style), can help bring a character to life (Telling Stories to Touch the Heart, 76-77).
[104] Warren W. Wiersbe, Preaching and Teaching with Imagination (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1994), 52, 70. Likewise Buttrick claims that "homiletic thinking is always a thinking of theology toward images" (Homiletic: Moves and Structure, 29 [italics his]).
[105] Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 363.
[106] David L. Larsen, Telling the Old, Old Story: The Art of Narrative Preaching (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1995), 242.
[107] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 329.
[108] Rose, "The Big Valley," 53.
[109] Preachers can also get great ideas for imaging scenes from James Michener, The Source (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1967). This tome sweeps back and forth from the fictional story of an archaeological excavation in western Galilee to the ancient stories behind the artifacts it uncovers.
[110] Eugene L. Lowry, The Homiletical Plot (Atlanta: Knox, 1980), 91.
[111] Robinson, Biblical Sermons, 82.
[112] Grant and Reed, Telling Stories to Touch the Heart, 57.
[113] Ibid., 59. For a list of other examples see Ralph L. Lewis with Gregg Lewis, Inductive Preaching: Helping People Listen(Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1983), 142.
[114] Frederick Buechner's brief, witty character sketches will pique the imagination of preachers who want to breathe color into the characters in Scripture (Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Whos Who [New York: Harper & Row, 1979). For further discussion of how solid exegesis informs and guides the imagination, see Steven D. Mathewson, "The Odd Couple of Sermon Preparation," Leadership Journal 15 (Spring 1994): 91-93.
[115] Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days (New York: Viking, 1985). For another example of how to paint a visual picture, read Robert Fulgham, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (New York: Ivy, 1986), as well as his subsequent works.
[116] See Paul Aurandt, Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (New York: Bantam, 1977); idem, More of Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (New York: Bantam, 1980); and idem, Destiny (New York: Bantam, 1983).
[117] Robinson, Biblical Sermons, 13-30, 51-88. Also see Holbert, Preaching Old Testament, 79-115. He presents sermons on Genesis 22 and the Book of Ruth. Each one is annotated and concludes with some "narrative notes". Reed and Grant include five appendixes with "Bible story manuscripts" (Telling Stories to Touch the Heart, 89-121).
[118] Paul Borden, "Preaching from Biblical Narratives," Expositapes (Denver: Denver Seminary, n.d.), Set III, #1; and idem, "Preaching a First-Person Narrative Sermon" (Denver: Denver Seminary, n.d.), Set VII, #4.
[119] "Old Testament Narrative," Preaching Today, ed. Ed Rowell (Wheaton, IL: Christianity Today, n.d.), tape 153. Donald Sunukjian's sermon on Esther, "My Name is Harbonah," appears on "Providence," Preaching Today, ed. Mark Galli (Wheaton, IL: Christianity Today, n.d.), tape 130.
[120] For the story and analysis of Americas culture shift from the "Age of Typography" to the "Age of Television" see Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York: Penguin, 1985).
[121] Larsen, Telling the Old, Old Story, 31.


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