On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons

John Broadus, one of the founding professors of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY), famously penned the classic homiletics textbook On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. The original was excellent but the “revised” copies you find around today . . . not so much. The following is one of the amazing stories behind the book.

Broadus’s homiletics class began the year [1865] with two students, but one dropped out midseason, and the remaining student was blind. Broadus could not use his accustomed assigned reading and recitation method, so he developed lectures that gave the student the complete course. Several years later Broadus revised and published these lectures under the title On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. Broadus had to borrow more than $1,000 to publish the book. The royalties quickly extinguished the debt. Reviewers praised the book, which was widely used as a textbook in American theological education even decades after his death.

From Gregory A. Wills, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2009), 64-65.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris Pixley on July 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

    That $1,000 turned out to be a shrewd investment, no? Both financially and, more importantly, spiritually. Only heaven knows the impact that Broadus’ work has had in the spiritual development of the lives of countless people.

  2. Chris, it was the best $1,000 he ever borrowed and spent. It would be difficult to tabulate the ROI.

    Maybe someone has done this but I would love to know if anyone is reprinting the original which still has great value. The “revised” is essentially worthless. I’m puzzled that SBTS hasn’t done this already. Anyone know?

  3. Posted by scott shaffer on July 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    You can find the original in digital format on Google Books. The whole thing about “editions” puzzles me. The latest and not so greatest is the fourth edition. This is what you’d get at Barnes & Noble, etc. However, if you look at the one at Google Books, the publish date is 1884 I believe, the inside cover says it is the 20th edition.

  4. Scott,

    I think that what the 1884 work means by “edition” is actually a reference to “printings.”

    E. C. Dargan was the first to revise the work in 1897. Dargan says, “At the opening of the session of 1894-95 he gave me an interleaved copy of the book to use in the classroom, with the request that I should note on the blank pages every suggestion which occurred to me, looking toward the proposed revision.” Broadus died in in 1895.

    The book essentially maintained the spirit of the original until 1943 when J. B. Weatherspoon got his dirty hands on it and the book was never the same. The Weatherspoon edition is what most people know today. Weatherspoon was a liberal catalyst at SBTS who helped usher in the “progressive era.”

  5. The Dargan edition is available at Solid Ground Christian Books. They have also reprinted Dargan’s 2 volume set “The History of Preaching” and Broadus’ “Lectures on the History of Preaching” which he gave in 1876. These are the lectures Dargan credits for his interest in studying and writing on the history of preaching. They can be found here:

    http://www.solid-ground-books.com/search.asp?searchtext=Dargan

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