Thursday, 13 December 2007

OK, a bit more on preaching then

Here is an extract from R.H. Mounce's article on "Preaching" in the New Bible Dictionary (Leicester: IVP, 1962).

The choice of verbs in the Greek New Testament for the activity of preaching points us back to its original meaning. The most characteristic (occurring more than sixty times) is kerysso, to proclaim as a herald'. In the ancient world the herald was a figure of considerable importance...A man of integrity and character, he was employed by the king or State to make all public proclamations. Preaching is heralding; the message proclaimed is the glad tidings of salvation. While kerysso tells us something about the activity of preaching, euangelizomai, 'to bring good news' (from the primitive eus, 'good' and the verb angello 'to announce'), a common verb, used over fifty times in the New Testament, emphasizes the quality of the message itself. It is worthy of note that the RV has not followed the AV in those places where it translates the verbs diangello, laleo, katangello and dialegomai by 'to preach'. This helps to bring into sharper focus the basic meaning of preaching.

This assists in seeing Richard Baxter's 1655 comment (see here) in its correct polemical context. It's almost certain that Baxter was working off the 1611 AV (Authorised Version) translation of the Bible when he speaks of 'preaching'. But it also highlights the wide New Testament vocabulary that revolves around the function of teaching: not just proclaiming (or 'preaching') but also evangelising, announcing, speaking, declaring, dialoguing (or possibly disputing, arguing, reasoning, or debating), not to mention plain old didasko, teaching.

Each and every one of these teaching activities, and more, come with dominical and apostolic authority and precedent, and should alert us to the wide range of possibilities for authoritatively communicating the divine and inerrant Word of God to our hearers.

Not to mention the humble task of being a writer, another piece of authoritative communication that the New Testament authors seem to have found time for.

I know that Klaas Runia makes a virtually identical point about the New Testament vocabulary of 'teaching' in his book The Sermon Under Attack, his 1983 Moore College lectures. But do you think I could find it this morning?

At least the desk is just marginally tidier here in the Matthias Media office. But I just wasted twenty minutes of my life looking for the Runia book. No way would Richard Baxter approve of that. There's gospel ministry to be getting on with, and here am I trying to footnote!

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