Don’t know much about history. . . of preaching?

When I was a wee lad I loved to go on field trips during school. It was a great way to learn through hands-on experiences. Today we began our D.Min session by taking a book tour/field trip of Dr. Rick Holland’s study. The focus of our tour was books on the history of preaching (we also got to see Rick’s pics from his tour of reformation hot spots like Geneva and Wittenberg. Having Genevan pastor, John Glass, in our cohort to provide commentary on the pictures was only an added bonus. It was a riveting discussion and very helpful in bringing the vast expanse of this wonderful history together.

Preachers should know their history and this means they should know their craft which includes knowing from where they have come. Many writers have chronicled this history from various perspectives (e.g., E. C. Dargan, Hughes Old, John Kerr, A. E. Garvey, Pattison, F. R. Webber, and John Broadus among others). Jude tells us that preaching can be traced at least as far back as far as Enoch who was only seven generations removed from Adam. Then there was Noah, Moses, the prophets, Ezra and the scribes mentioned in Nehemiah chapter 8 and many others in the OT. There was John the Baptist, Jesus Himself, the Apostles and their associates. There were the church fathers, medieval preachers and then the Reformers. Since the Reformation, preaching has been on the incline but understanding how we got here has been on the decline. A. E. Garvie relates the importance of preaching history this way:

“The history of preaching…is the necessary presupposition of any discussion of the credentials, qualifications, and functions of the preacher today. Since he stands in a historical succession, he will recognize the responsibility of his trust, and the difficulty of his task, only as he has a distinct consciousness of this succession, and takes up into this ideal of his vocation all the elements of permanent significance and value in the previous history.”

4 responses to this post.

  1. i almost feel like i’m there in class w/you gents.

    good stuff

  2. Where would you recommend a young expositor begin if he wishes to familiarize himself with the history of preaching?

  3. Chris,

    I believe the chapter in “Rediscovering Expository Preaching” on the history of expository preaching is the best intro level article. Then one should graduate to either Hughes Old’s multi-volume work or E. C. Dargan’s two volumes. The downside of Dargan is that he starts at AD 70 and ends before the 20th Century.I hope this helps.

  4. Rick Holland mentions several works in his Faculty Lecture on the Emerging Church and Preaching.

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