The Best Books on Preaching--Part 9

Part 9—Expository Preaching—The Art of Preaching Through a Book of the Bible, Harold T. Bryson, Broadman and Holman, 1995

I would like to take another book about expository preaching and review it for your consideration.  This review will not be as long as the one on yesterday which was written by John MacArthur, Jr. et al.  However, I would say that Harold Bryson’s book, Expository Preaching—TheArt of Preaching Through a Book of the Bible, is almost as good.  I have greatly benefited from this book over the years.  It is another book that you can tell how much it has been used because of the dog-eared pages, highlighted areas, and scribbles in the margins. 

Admittedly there is some overlap that Bryson and MacArthur’s books have.  This is primarily in the areas of defining what expository preaching is and is not.  Bryson’s steps are a little more defined in telling a preacher how to go about preaching through a biblical book.  He gives the following seven disciplines that are necessary for a preacher to accomplish that task.

1.      Prepare a paper on the historical background of the book.
2.     Make a detailed analysis of the book.
3.     Engage in appropriate exegesis for the book.
4.     Initiate interpretations of each text.
5.     Survey a variety of literary possibilities.
6.     Plot a series of sermons from the book.
7.      Prepare for individual sermons on the book.

I will add that Bryson has created a chapter for each one of these steps and each chapter is very well laid out with helpful tips of how to do it.  One thing that Bryson seems to emphasize in the whole process of the work is the discipline that is necessary to accomplish the task of preaching the Word.  I have to admit that I enjoy the motivation that I receive from reading about the necessary discipline of staying in your chair until your work is done. 

I feel certain that you may have the same reaction that I had when I first read this book.  I somewhat objected to the steps that Bryson was encouraging.  However what one must realize that in going about this process of study is his commitment to becoming a student of Scripture.  What better way to know the mind of God than to study the Word of God? 

In the first chapter on the process of doing a paper, Bryson gives some very good resource recommendations that will help a preacher to build his own personal library.  I also enjoyed the various preachers Bryson mentioned and the series that they preached.  For instance:

  • Donald Grey Barnhouse—Preached through Romans for 3 ½ years.
  • D. Martin Lloyd-Jones—60 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount.  On Friday evenings, 161 sermons on Romans 3:20-8:39.  On Sunday mornings, 230 messages on Ephesians.  (All of these are available in print if you choose to purchase them.)
  • George Broadman—Preached through the NT on Wednesday nights totaling 640 messages in more than 10 years.
  • W. A. Criswell—Preached through the book of Revelation in 82 messages.  Also had from Daniel 31 messages, from Galatians 21 messages, and from Acts 128 messages.
  • James Montgomery Boice—Preached through Genesis taking 180 sermons and 45 sermons through Philippians. 

Scattered throughout the book are also examples of how that preachers have broken up books into individual sermons.  For instance, Fred Wood took twelve texts and themes from the 52 chapters of Jeremiah:

  • Fanning the Flame, 1:1-19
  • Can a Bride Forget?, 2:1-44
  • Blow the Trumpet, 4:5-6:30
  • When the Bubble Bursts, 11:1-8; 11:18-12:6
  • What’s Worse than No Religion?, 7:1-8:3; 26:1-14
  • While the Lights are Still Burning, 13:1-7; 18:1-23; 19:1-20:18
  • The Dear Lord’s Best Interpreters, 35:1-17
  • Better Had They Ne’er Been Born, 36:1-32
  • New Occasions to Teach Old Duties, Chapters 24 & 29
  • But Thou, O Man of God, Chapter 28
  • A Correspondence Fixed with Heaven, 11:28-12:6; 18:18-23; 20:7-18; 15:10-21; 17:9-18; 21:1-14; 34:1-7; 37:1-10
  • New In My Father’s Kingdom, 31:31-34

Those types of examples are all through the book.  It is also heavily foot-noted and has a very extensive bibliography.  I would place this book in the category of ‘the best books on preaching.’

Stay tuned. . .

Thanks for reading. . .    


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