Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 02/25/2009 by Chad Vandervalk.
Recommended. A thought-provoking resource on sermon preparation.
It is often rather difficult to preach on a passage within one of the synoptic gospels, because the story may be told slightly differently in all three. The question then becomes, “Do I preach on the story from all three gospels, or do I preach on the text in this gospel?” David J. Ourisman, in his book From Gospel to Sermon: Preaching Synoptic Texts, attempts to address this issue.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I appreciate that Ourisman wants to take the context of the whole book into account as he preaches on the individual text. We should always keep the whole book in mind while studying and preaching a passage, but I am not sure that we should always bring it into every sermon.
He makes a good point regarding preaching from a lectionary. If one is going to go through a given synoptic gospel throughout the coming year according to a given lectionary, they should pay close attention to the book as a whole and how each sermon relates to the previous and subsequent one. I particularly appreciated the manner in which Ourisman discusses the books. He does a brief but succinct treatment of each.
The main problem I have with the book is the manner in which Ourisman puts into practice the advice he gives in the book. His sermons do not seem to impart a lot of what he discusses in the chapters. For example, his sermon on Peter’s confession of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark seems to raise more questions than it answers. That may be an appropriate strategy to get the congregation to think through the issues a bit more, but the sermon seemed to be lacking something. Perhaps the thing that bothered me the most is his application. He took the theme and directly applied it to social issues without making a biblical connection between the two ideas.
I also wonder if it is possible for a person to do all he is asking for every sermon. In his defence I would argue that Ourisman assumes the pastor will be working on one book for a long time, and so most of this work would be done over the course of time, and would not have to be repeated for every sermon.
Overall I found the book quite thought-provoking.