Hermeneutics for Preaching

By Raymond Bailey
Nashville, TN : Broadman (1992). 223 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
4.2 (Fall 1993) : 227-228

The author is professor of preaching and also Director of the National Center of Christian Preaching at Southern Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. This volume presents various approaches to preaching based on differing contemporary interpretations of Scripture. Bailey gathers a number of present-day preachers, each of whom promotes a particular interpretive method, and illustrates each approach with a sermon based on that method.

The seven models in the book are:

Chapter 1: A Historical Model              David Dockery

Chapter 2: A Canonical Model                           John Watts

Chapter 3: A Literary Model                                Alan Culpepper

Chapter 4: A Rhetorical Model                           Craig Loscalzo

Chapter 5: An African-American Model            James E. Massey

Chapter 6: A Philosophical Model                     Dan R. Stiver

Chapter 7: A Theological Model                        Raymond Bailey

Hermeneutics for Preachingis both a book on interpretation and a text on homiletics. Bailey states,

The preacher's vocation requires him or her to be as familiar with hermeneutics as a doctor must be with the theories and techniques of diagnosis. The preacher has the responsibility of determining meaning not only for self, but also for others. . . . Preachers must strive to determine the meanings of texts, consider the implications for a particular people in a particular culture at a particular time, and then communicate their findings to these people. Preachers have the dual responsibility of understanding and explaining (8).

He illustrates his premise through the writings and examples of various types of preachers. The articles are well written and documented, and portray well each hermeneutical approach. This reviewer found special interest in the African-American model, which differed from the others in tailoring the text to a particular class of people.

A weakness of the work is that overall the hermeneutical principles governing the majority of contributors are those espoused by Schleiermacher, Barth, and the like. The inescapable impression created by the book is that the text is not what dictates the sermon, but rather the presuppositions of the exegete and the needs of the people. Yet even in ministering to contemporary society, every preacher must remember that his primary calling is always to "preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2).