Book Review: The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach From Old Testament Narrative Texts
By Dale Ralph Davis
Reviewed by: David A. Thommen
At first blush you may be mislead into thinking that The Word Became Fresh to be a new and inventive approach to preaching Old Testament narrative. It is not. As Davis laments in the Preface to the book after teaching a class on preaching he concluded that he never wanted to teach preaching. The focus of this book is a step removed from the preaching of Old Testament narrative. It is a focus on preparing to preach these fabulous texts. With that being said, I want to heartily recommend this book as simply a breath of fresh air (no pun intended).
For those who are committed to the expository preaching of the whole of Scripture, which includes the Old Testament, this book will not enlighten you to anything you did not know or did not learn in a good Homiletics class, but it does provide good reminders and jogs to our memory important points to consider when one approaches Old Testament narrative.
Two of the most helpful and thought provoking chapters are chapter 3 and chapter 5, entitled â€œTheologyâ€ and â€œNastiesâ€ respectively. The â€œTheologyâ€ chapter serves as a helpful reminder for those who preach these passages faithfully. Dale Davis writes, â€œIâ€™m using the term here to refer to the theology of a biblical text, that is, what the text means to say about God, his ways and his worksâ€ (p. 31). How many of us have heard a dozen ways to conquer our giants from 1st Samuel 17? Davis is helpful here in reminding us to keep focused on the intended meaning of a biblical text.
The second chapter of note, chapter 5, entitled â€œNastiesâ€ is drawing attention to those Old Testament passages that many do not like to preach (judgment, wrath, etc.). But, as Davis points out, avoidance of these texts â€œimpoverishes the church.â€ In this chapter he gives some helpful examples of texts that would fall into this category and how one should approach them.
Throughout all of the chapters, what is incredibly helpful is Davis providing for the reader example texts of what he is talking about. This gives marvelous instruction to the reader to get a grasp on the points of reminder that Davis gives.
As I said, this book is not something revolutionary. If that is what you are looking for, this is not the book for you. However, if you want a book that is a fairly quick read that provokes thought in your own preaching and reminds you of the things you learned in Homiletics that have been put away in the cobweb filled recesses of your mind, The Word Became Fresh is a must read.