Homiletical Options
KNP 5361
Toronto School of Theology/Knox College
Fall Term
Class Sessions:  Tuesdays, 12:30-2:30 PM



Prof. David Schnasa Jacobsen
Phone:  519-884-0710, x3493
Office Hours: when my office door is open (generally Tuesdays only) or by appointment


Learning Goals:

This course is designed to help advanced students gain a grasp of contemporary options in homiletic theory.  While a brief introduction to the background of the field in its present state will be part of the course, students will begin by becoming familiar with the work of those figures in the field who have embraced what some have called "the new homiletic."  While these figures represent a great variety of theoretical positions, the one thing that comes closest to uniting them is the so-called "turn to the hearer."  As a result, students will leave this course with a good grasp of the field of contemporary homiletic theory, an appreciation for the revolution in preaching method of the last thirty years, and a sense of the “return to theology” that has been emerging out of it over the last ten years.


Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact the University of Toronto for information regarding its services and resources. Students are encouraged to review the Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus.                       


Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.                  


Required Texts:
Eslinger, Richard.  A New Hearing:  Living Options in Homiletic Method.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1987.
Rose, Lucy.  Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church.  Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.

McClure, John.  Other-Wise Preaching.  St. Louis: Chalice, 2001.      

Wilson, Paul.  Preaching and Homiletical Theory.  St. Louis:  Chalice, 2004.


This course is a seminar in format.  As such it depends on the shared leadership of the students to meet its goals.  In the schedule below, the portions led by the professor are in regular type, the portion for which students are responsible are in bold type.




9/11     Syllabus, schedule, and assignments. 

            Lecture:  Background to the New Homiletic: Rhetoric and Truth in an Age of Deductivity

            For next week, read Buttrick’s article “Interpretation and Preaching,” and chapter 1 of Bond, Contemporary African-American Preaching.  Both of these items are on reserve at Caven library


9/18     Discussion of Buttrick’s article and Bond’s chapter 1 in class.     

            Determine schedule of presentation assignments


9/25     Lecture: The New Hermeneutic and the Transition of Homiletic Theory

            Presentation: H. Grady Davis           __________________

            Presentation: David Randolph          __________________


10/2     Presentation: Fred Craddock 1         __________________

            Presentation: Fred Craddock 2         __________________

            Discussion: Craddock sermon


10/9     Lecture: From Inductivity to Story and Discourse: A Primer on Narrative Theories

            Presentation:  Eugene Lowry            __________________

            Discussion:  Lowry sermon


10/16   Presentation: Charles Rice               __________________

            Discussion:  Rice sermon

            Presentation:  Henry Mitchell           __________________

            Discussion:  Mitchell sermon

            For next class:  read Eslinger’s A New Hearing


10/23   Topic:  Preaching and the Turn to the Hearers

            Lecture: David Buttrick’s phenomenological homiletic

            Discussion:  Buttrick sermon

            Discuss Eslinger’s A New Hearing: Is there a new homiletic?

            For next class:  read Part IV (pp. 171-231) of Richard Bernstein’s Beyond Objectivism and Relativism on reserve at Caven libarary


10/30   Discuss Bernstein’s Part IV

            Presentation:  John McClure (RP)   __________________

            Discussion:  McClure sermon

            For next class read Lischer’s article “The Limits of Story” on reserve.


11/6     A Return to Theology: Neo-Orthodox/Post-Liberal Reactions to the New Homiletic

            Discuss Lischer’s article, “The Limits of Story”

            Presentation:  Paul Wilson                __________________

            Presentation: Campbell                     __________________

            Discussion:  Campbell sermon  For next week read Rose’s Sharing the Word



            A Return to Theology: Revisionist and Liberationist Responses to the New Homiletic

            Presentation: Christine Smith           __________________

            Discuss Smith sermon

            Presentation: Ron Allen                    __________________

            Discuss Allen sermon

            Discuss Rose’s Sharing the Word

            For next class read John McClure’s Other-Wise Preaching


[11/20] No class:  Professor at SBL 


11/27   Topic:  Preaching and Post-modernism/Post-structuralism

            Discuss John McClure’s Other-Wise Preaching

            Lecture:  Anna Carter Florence

            Discuss Carter Florence sermon

            Read Paul Wilson’s Preaching and Homiletical Theory


12/4     Discuss Paul Wilson’s Preaching and Homiletical Theory

            Evaluation and eschatological party


Depending on the needs and interests in class, I may be willing to rework the schedule of some of the figures we will be considering. 




1.  In-Class Presentations (three or four per student=50% of final grade)

Each student will provide a thirty-minute presentation on a chosen figure for that day covering:
(1)  Their Homiletic Method (20 min.)
(2)  Implicit and Explicit Theological Norms:  e.g., what do they assume or state about "hearers," "the preacher," "preaching," "scripture," and their relationship to God, Christ, and/or the Holy Spirit? (5 min.)
(3)  A Brief Evaluation. (5 min.)

Over the course, each student will be responsible for four figures. Therefore, each presentation will amount to an even fraction of 50% of your final grade.  Since this will require significant reading outside class, I will gladly help you to find books and articles that will speed you on your way, answer questions as they arise (either by phone or e-mail), and generally cheer you on to homiletic glory. 


2.  Final Paper (50% of final grade)

Each student will write a final paper of about 20 pp. in length on a topic of homiletic theory that touches on some aspect of the homiletic method of one or more of our figures above.  Students may want to think about a topic that relates to future thesis work.  Please agree on your topic with the instructor prior to writing and submitting it.  The paper is due on the last day of the fall term

Required Texts to Purchase:

Eslinger, Richard.  A New Hearing:  Living Options in Homiletic Method.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1987.

Rose, Lucy.  Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church.  Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.


McClure, John.  Other-Wise Preaching.  St. Louis: Chalice, 2001.      


Wilson, Paul.  Preaching and Homiletical Theory.  St. Louis:  Chalice, 2004.


Required Readings on Reserve:


Bernstein, Richard J.  Beyond Objectivism and Relativism:  Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania, 1988.  (Part IV only)


Bond, L. Susan.  Contemporary African American Preaching:  Diversity in Theory and Style.  Chalice:  St. Louis, 2003. (chapter 1 only).


Buttrick, David, “Interpretation and Preaching,” in Interpretation XXXV:1 (January 1981), 46-58.


Lischer, Richard, “The Limits of Story,” in Interpretation XXXVIII:1 (January 1984), 26-38.



Presentation Texts:


Allen, Ron. Interpreting the Gospel:  An Introduction to Preaching.  St. Louis:  Chalice, 1998.


Broadus, John A.  On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons.  Rev. Ed.; New York:  Harper, 1944.


Buttrick, David.  Homiletic:  Moves and Structures.  Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1987.


Campbell, Charles.  Preaching Jesus.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1997. 


Craddock, Fred.  As One Without Authority.  3rd Ed.; Nashville:  Abingdon, 1979.


Craddock, Fred.  Preaching.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1985.


Davis, H. Grady.  Design for Preaching.  Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1958.


Jensen, Richard A.  Telling the Story.  Minneapolis:  Augsburg, 1980.


Kim, Eunjoo Mary.  Preaching the Presence of God:  A Homiletic from an Asian American Perspective.  Valley Forge, PA:  Judson, 1999.


Lischer, Richard.  “The Limits of Story” in Interpretation XXXVIII:1 (January, 1984) 26-38.


Long, Thomas.  The Witness of Preaching.  Louisville:  WJKP, 1999.


Lowry, Eugene L.  The Homiletical Plot.  Exp. Ed.; Louisville:  WJKP, 2001.


McClure, John.  The Roundtable Pulpit.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1996.


Mitchell, Henry.  Celebration and Experience in Preaching.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1990.


Randolph, David.  The Renewal of Preaching.  Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1969.


Smith, Christine.  Preaching as Weeping, Confession, and Resistance.  Louisville:  WJKP, 1992.


Steimle, Edmund, Morris Niedenthal and Charles Rice.  Preaching the Story.  Philadelphia:  Fortress, 1980.


Thulin, Richard L.  The “I” of the Sermon.  Minneapolis:  Fortress, 1989.


Wilder, Amos.  Early Christian Rhetoric.  Cambridge:  Harvard, 1971.


Williams, Michael “Preaching as Storytelling,” in Journeys toward Narrative Preaching.  Ed. Wayne Robinson; New York:  Pilgrim, 1990.


Wilson, Paul.  The Four Pages of the Sermon.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1999.