Review: Preaching Old Testament Narratives

29011656Benjamin H. Walton is president of PreachingWorks, an organization dedicated to helping pastors make the most of their preaching potential. Walton earned a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he completed his dissertation on enhancing hermeneutical accuracy in the preaching of Old Testament narratives. Walton is a respected homiletician and has lectured at several colleges and seminaries on a variety of homiletical topics. Most recently, Walton brought the core of his doctoral work to the public with the release of Preaching Old Testament Narratives.

Preaching Old Testament Narratives is a well-organized presentation of Walton’s homiletical excellence, on display for the good of pastors and teachers everywhere. Walton provides tools to help the reader determine the perimeter of narrative (a notoriously difficult task in the genre of Old Testament narrative) and prepares them for the hermeneutical process. Walton makes use of several acronyms throughout as he establishes a methodology and aids the reader’s remembrance for future engagement. Walton encourages the reader to detect a complete unit of thought (CUT), followed by movement from the original theological message (OTM) to the take-home truth (THT). The majority of the book is comprised of Walton’s application of Don Sunukijan’s homiletic to preaching Old Testament narrative (p. 19).

One of the most exciting aspects of Walton’s homiletical approach is his emphasis on preaching entire units of narrative, rather than verse-by-verse or chapter-by-chapter. Moreover, for the sake of such approach, Walton encourages pastors to summarize the narrative while reading the verses that are imperative to the sermon. From experience, I have found this approach to be extremely helpful and engaging for the congregation. It also allows the message of the sermon to hinge on the text rather than the preacher’s words alone. It is here that the organizational emphasis of the book not only instructs the reader on how to preach Old Testament narratives but likewise shows them how to deliver such with excellence.

It is hard work to handle the narratives of the Old Testament with faithfulness to the text. The proclamation and deliverance of any given sermon differ from preacher to preacher, and, to be sure, many reading this book will undoubtedly have old habits that need to be broken if they are going to align themselves with Walton’s methodology. Still, with five pages of praiseworthy endorsements from some of today’s top pastoral minds, Walton’s methods are tried and proven to position the preacher for success. If you, like many others, struggle to preach Old Testament narratives, this is a book that must be read before scheduling your church’s next journey through the Old Testament. It comes highly recommended!

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