More than once I have been asked what is a “pericope” (pronounced: pe-ri-ke-pee) as it pertains to preaching (we’ve discussed this once before here). Its importance is mainly felt in, but not limited to, narrative portions of Scripture (as well as poetic sections). When preaching a section of Scripture it is crucial to know where the section begins and ends and it is the pericope that provides the framework. There are many clues as to defining the shape of a pericope which might include transitional words, plot or scene changes, syntactical markers, etc. It might also be argued that the pericope gives a textual limit to the one meaning of a given text which is of first importance in understanding the original meaning of a biblical author. Kaiser is helpful in showing the importance of this in our preaching:
Words belong to sentences, and sentences usually belong to paragraphs, scenes, strophes, or larger units within the grammar of a genre. This is why I urge that a good expositional sermon never take less than a full paragraph, or its literary equivalent (e.g., a scene, a strope, or the like), as a basis. The reason is clear: Only the full paragraph, or its equivalent, contains on full idea or concept of that text. To split off some of its parts is to play with the text as it could be bent in any fashion in order to accomplish what we think is best (Preaching and Teaching the Old Testament, 54).