In Other Words, Incarnational Translation for Preaching
Charles H. Cosgrove and W. Dow Edgerton
In our theological libraries it may be that, depending upon our organization, the sub-sections contain books in the following areas: biblical studies; history; spirituality and prayer; religious studies; philosophy; ethics; and general theology. The area which reviews in religion and theology entitles praxis and ministry, will include a variety of books about the theory of pastoral and practical theology alongside specific books about ministry in key areas of the work of the Church, for example, work with older people, the dying and bereaved or with the homeless or drug addicts. How many good books are there on preaching? Good books on preaching may be few and even rare.
In Other Words is an exception in its creativity, resourcefulness and challenge. This book ambitiously hopes that it can resource pastors to reach congregations through preaching. It aims to show its reader how to engage the biblical text with both creative imagination and pastoral discernment.
It describes itself in the sub-title as,’Incarnational Translation for Preaching’, because it invites readers to imagine what the text might look like if produced in the preacher’s own culture, time and place. The authors aspire that the sermon should be both faithful to the biblical text and more imaginative, lively, engaging and pertinent for the listener.
The book offers serious theological and educational process as it draws on translation theory, genre studies, hermeneutical theory as part of a framework of engaging of how the text can connect with human experience.
Two images are used to illuminate this theological process. First is the importance of allowing the biblical passage to sing its song, transposing the melody in to a new key. The second is the pleasure that can come from the freeing of a passage to do its dance and to do it on our stage.
Chapter One describes tendencies in the field of homiletics today as a way of situating the interests and approaches of incarnational translation. Chapter Two introduces incarnational translation which an emphasis in Chapter Three on psalms, hymns and oracles, in Chapter Four on story and in Chapter five on law and wisdom. Finally Chapter Six deals with the hermeneutical circle or spiral of preaching as an interpretative act. In this Chapter the work of Paul Ricoeur figures importantly in the framing of this concept of hermeneutical spiral. There is a useful bibliography especially for those wishing to explore narrative, poetry and hermeneutics.
This is an extraordinary, skilled, imaginative and practical book that demands both to be read, used and therefore practiced.