The most-recent issue of Homiletic, sponsored by the Academy of Homiletics, is available online here.
It contains the two main articles noted below, but (from my perspective) the most interesting feature of the journal is its review sections, which includes reviews of books I don’t see anywhere else.
Exploring the Use of Narratology for Narrative Preaching
Although narrative preaching as a movement may have gone out of fashion in North American homiletics more than two decades ago, there has since been a resurgence of interest in the rhetorical function of biblical narratives along with the continuing exploration of more democratic, dialogical and open-ended homiletical forms. This study, therefore, suggests that the discipline of narratology can potentially combine these two elements by replicating the dynamics of biblical narratives in a variety of narrative sermon formats. By providing an examination of the elements of narratology, this approach seeks to reunite the often-separated elements of textual and homiletical form and function. The use of these narratological exegetical tools can then allow biblical narratives to assert a greater influence upon the form of the sermon itself, create an experience of the text for the listeners, and enable them to enter into the “world of words” of biblical narratives.
Are Congregations Texts?
It is a common sentiment among homileticians that preaching requires exegeting both the scriptural text and the congregational context. The relevancy of the preaching message, it is argued, depends in part upon a deep knowledge of the congregational culture. The preacher is therefore encouraged to “read” the culture of the congregation and discern how the symbols, practices, and actions of the congregation are used to make meaning so that the preacher might construct a fitting sermon. In this way, the congregation is likened to a text that awaits a reading by a literate observer. In this paper, I examine the limitations of such an analogy arguing that while a semiotic approach to congregations has merit it is often blind to the ways in which power and production influence the creation and reproduction of the congregational culture. Finally, the paper concludes with descriptions from recent homiletical works that offer productive alternatives to the semiotic approach to congregational study.