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A Critical Review of Him We Proclaim by Dennis JohnsonBook Review

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¶ … provoking book which presents an extended argument for Christocentric preaching as a part of an apostolic hermeneutic. The author of the book attempts to base his homilectical practice on a distinguishing hermeneutical theory which disputes several other perspectives. His attempts are assisted by appeal to the distinct hermeneutical practices of the New Testament (NT) authors. The book is in two parts and complete with two very useful appendices. The first part of the book attempts to build a hermeneutical argument for what the writer refers to as apostolic Christocentric preaching. The argument explores the manner in which NT authors read, quote, and apply the OT (Old Testament) in their apostolic teaching and preaching-what emerges from this is a discernible Christocentric method of reading Old Testament canon. In the second part of the book the author highlights and demonstrates the homilectical practices contained in the hermeneutical principles and concepts that were discussed in the first section ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014, para 1&3).

The book begins by detailing three ways in which differences can occur between OT and NT in modern evangelical hermeneutics; first, is through literalistic hermeneutic of dispentionalism; second through Enlightenment-inclined biblical criticism and; third, through religious pluralism. The author also discusses a thesis that while apostolic theology has been maintained throughout the years, their interpretive methods have been excluded by modern evangelical scholarship. Finally, the author discusses about the gap between the church and the academy, by particularly focusing on the differences between gospel proclamation and biblical scholarship. Having introduced these matters, the author then seeks to reunite these issues based on the apostolic hermeneutical and homiletical model ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014, para).

Critical Review

Writer's goal identified and analysed

Johnson's book proceeds to define hermeneutical boundaries for the re-uniting model proposed in the previous chapter by weighing certain preaching priorities and differences. This chapter is the biblical foundation upon which Johnson treads the hermeneutical topics, discussing the texts first and then the related hermeneutics and homiletics and repeating the process over again. The chapter also provides a critical but sympathetic consideration of opposing homiletic approaches, noting both the strengths and possible weaknesses of each of the approaches. (30) Johnson then searches and evaluates a wide range of evangelical homiletical practices based on 3 categories: preaching to edify, preaching to convert and preaching to instruct. The author also gives a critical but somewhat fair analysis of everything from redemptive-historical preaching models to homiletics of nouthetic counselors and seeker-influenced "felt-needs" models. Johnson also suggests and promotes a combinational approach. In promoting this approach, Tim Keller's preaching is used as an example ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014).

The next chapter seeks to find the purpose of preaching by assessing Apostle Paul's teachings on the matter. Paul preached (Colossians 1) to address everyone perfect or mature in Christ, which demonstrates not only the identity and needs of the people he was preaching to but also the content of his message. Paul in his preaching also dwells on the sacrifices made by preachers of the good news, in addition to the divine power that was operating within them. Using Paul's teaching in Colossians 1 and examples from first century apostolic preaching, the author presents the four themes, which are the core of this book (content, listeners, purpose and communication tasks). These four themes in addition to the power, responsibility and price of preaching the gospel are fundamental to a multidimensional comprehensive understanding of apostolic preaching ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014)

The next chapter gives historical examples of how the aforementioned apostolic preaching model has qualified in its mission. The author outlines how this model has passed though phases (in no particular order) of rejection, complication, chastening and recovery. According to Johnson, this homiletical method, was at first "complicated" by medieval and patristic inclination for an imaginative expansion of the symbolic reading of the scripture. The author then uses a Reformation viewpoint to fittingly chasten the extremes and excesses that had already emerged out of ancient exegesis and also the individualism that had typified Radical Reformation. Opinionated reading of biblical text in many ways opened the doors to the rejection of apostolic preaching based on the impact of Enlightenment upon different forms of Biblical criticism. Johnson then details how apostolic preaching recovered in the 20th century under the guide of Princeton Biblical scholar Geerhardus Vos and its preservation and evolution since that time within specific Reformed evangelical groups ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014).

Other interpretations of the arguments made

The last chapter of the Johnson's book is apologetic and weighs various elements that have acted as challenges to this type of preaching model. Most of the challenges show the modern reflection of the different types of thinking that has been detailed in the historical chapter; for example, the impact of historical misgivings or criticism on the harmony of the Scripture (128). Johnson explicitly responds to positions held by McCartney, Kaiser, Enns, Gadamer, Longenecker, Dodd, and Beale and subsequently deduces that even the much used grammatico-historical approach has to be adjusted to or need to comply with apostolic interpretive approaches.

Furthermore, the initial chapter of the book is based on "Apostolic Christocentric" preaching. The author ascribes the Epistles to Hebrews as a single epistolary sermon and evaluates it as a model argument for preaching in the chapter. Theological apostolic preaching foundations have been revealed in the subsequent chapter. The book's concluding 3 chapters detail Christ's centrality in the whole of the bible, giving unique and insightful help on how to organize and give sermons from old and the new testaments-teaching the promises of the "Old Testament" and about the promise keeper in the "New Testament." These three chapters show that the theory proposed in the book is solid, and that its apologetic premise is logical and finally that the theory is pragmatic. The chapters are almost like a homiletical guide, with an explanation for many valuable practices and principles ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014).

Evaluation- Strengths and Weaknesses

In evaluating the book, Him We Proclaim, 2 strengths and 1 weakness will be highlighted and discussed. This evaluation will then be followed by a few concluding remarks on the overall value of the work.

Strengths

The two strengths of Him We Proclaim, are: the addition of effectively summarized yet explanatory deductions at the end of its chapters, and Johnson's brief but insightful writing on the preceding records of biblical interpretation.

The addition of meaningful deduction at the end of its chapters

Each chapter contains a detailed exploration of the bible's text, the application of biblical assertions, history, hermeneutics and theology. Johnson delves deeply and analytically into textual analysis, in addition to discussing far-reaching implications of the text for both theory and the preaching practice. The writer's apostolic, Christocentric, grace-driven and redemptive-historical approach for interpreting the scripture leads his audience not only more widely across theological landscape with regards to contemporary teaching but also deeper into the text. At the end of each chapter, Johnson manages to give a condensed outline of the chapter. Thus, in short, one can say he has a gift of expounding on the scriptures in great detail that have huge benefits to the reader and then offering a short conclusion which appropriately summarize all the complex issues under consideration ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014, para12-14).

Students will find the outlines in every one of the conclusions quite useful. This reviewer frequently comes up with comparable outlines in the process of reviewing books to get reviews or perhaps revising for exams. However, the comprehensive and condensed finishing summaries of the writer proved to have much more depth and pragmatic utility. They are a brief but comprehensive review of the history of the bible's understandings. There are a few chapters of the book, for instance, the fourth chapter of the book, which alone signify the book's value by itself. It is quite common to condemn or disregard the medieval and patristic readings of Scripture founded upon myths that are linked to the "hyper-allegorization" of those times in the accounts of exegesis. Johnson does not really align with these reductionistic overviews, yet he provides a sympathetic but critical assessment of the accounts of biblical explanations. In the utilization of an exceptional allegory, he uses the phase "complication" in a double entendre as an illustration for the advancements in exegesis in its very first millennium-complex in the light of a rise in the multiplicity of the technique and of meanings, allegorically, in the "medical sense" of a poor growth that placed the patient's health in danger ("Book Review: Him We Proclaim by Dennis E. Johnson" 2014, para 15 & 16).

Weaknesses

In spite of offering some insight on the twin matters of hermeneutics and homiletics, some lapses could still have been a part of this text. One… [END OF PREVIEW]

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