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A Manual for Preaching

The Journey from Text to Sermon

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Abraham Kuruvilla's A Vision for Preaching offered an integrated biblical and theological vision for preaching. A Manual for Preaching addresses the practical (and perennial) issue of how to move from the biblical text to an effective sermon. The author, a well-respected teacher of preachers, shows how to discern the text's theological meaning and let that meaning shape the development of the sermon. Clearly written and illustrated with Old Testament and New Testament examples, the book helps preachers negotiate larger swaths of Scripture and includes two annotated sermon manuscripts from Kuruvilla.

1. Getting Ready
2. Discerning Theology
3. Deriving Application
4. Creating Maps
5. Fleshing Moves
6. Illustrating Ideas
7. Crafting Introductions and Conclusions
8. Producing Manuscripts
9. Delivering Sermons
Appendix A: Big Idea versus Theological Focus
Appendix B: Preaching--Argumentation versus Demonstration
Appendix C: Annotated Sermon Manuscript--Ephesians 1:1-14
Appendix D: Annotated Sermon Manuscript--Genesis 26:1-33


"Abraham Kuruvilla is a physician-theologian whose work in the field of homiletics is both innovative and firmly Bible based. This manual on preaching is at once practical and theologically rich. It shows not only how-to but also wherefore. Highly recommended!"

Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture

"Abraham Kuruvilla, one of our most prolific homileticians, has finally written an introductory textbook, and the guild is better for it. His approach is fresh as he shows students how to discover, apply, organize, illustrate, and deliver the theological thrust of the text. Grounded in homiletical and hermeneutical theory, A Manual for Preaching is also written with a conversational tone. I like how Abe dialogues with the reader. Furthermore, he has managed to make his case forcefully but also humbly."

Jeffrey Arthurs, Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Communication, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Wise, humble, realistic, vividly illustrated, erudite, comprehensive, constructively contrarian, playful, memorable, but above all helpful for the serious preacher, Dr. Kuruvilla's magnum opus builds upon decades of preaching, equipping preachers, and writing for them. Some homiletics texts are purely theoretical, or the exemplary sermons are so detached from the theory that they could have been written by someone else. Not this volume. Kuruvilla demonstrates how to discern the theology of the pericope and how that theology governs the sermon. Time and again, words in this book reminded me of the detailed underlying scholarship in earlier works in the Kuruvilla corpus. Then, just when I needed it, some saying, like simplicity always wins, glued itself to my brain, or some image, like the preacher as curator of a work of art (the text), put the call to preach into perspective. This book is not for the lazy. It takes seriously the price preachers must pay to prepare, but it will richly reward those who learn from its precepts and examples."

Greg R. Scharf, professor emeritus of homiletics and pastoral theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"This introduction to the science and the art of preaching represents Kuruvilla at his best. Writing with passion, with clarity, with plenty of illustrations and examples, and from a wealth of experience, he offers a practical and engaging guide to the highest calling on earth--the proclamation of the word of God. Few will agree with him, or me, at every point, but then, effective preachers tend to be idiosyncratic creatures. Our differences aside, whether readers are old hands at the enterprise or novices entering this sacred vocation, anyone who preaches and any church leader who listens to preaching needs to read this book. It will encourage the former to improve their homiletical skills, but more importantly, it will inspire them to proclaim the message of God's grace with greater authority and fire. And it should inspire the latter to pray for those who preach."

Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Wheaton College

"In the multitude of books on preaching, Abraham Kuruvilla's book will prove to be of more value than most, whether for novice or experienced preachers. The book does exactly what it claims, helping a preacher to move step-by-step from text to sermon. It rightly emphasizes the importance of preaching units of Scripture to the church in continuity, rather than picking away at unrelated texts, and of doing so through a theological lens. The book is full of seasoned wisdom, making use of Kuruvilla's own experience--both his successes and, occasionally, his failures. He helpfully applies his wisdom throughout the book by using the story of Jacob and the Letter to the Ephesians. I recommend it not only for personal enrichment but also as a textbook for any class in homiletics."

Derek Tidball, former principal, London School of Theology

"If Kuruvilla writes it, I read it! Few think or write more deeply or insightfully about preaching and its implications than Abraham Kuruvilla. This latest book from his pen is no exception. Written with wit and verve, A Manual for Preaching is the author's seasoned reflections on the art and craft of writing and preaching biblical sermons. If you only read one book on preaching published in 2019, make it this one!"

David L. Allen, dean of the School of Preaching, distinguished professor of preaching, and George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"No matter where we are in our preaching journey, we can learn from this man, who does it well. Listen to Abe preach, and I promise that you will be blessed with fresh insights and clear applications. You will also take note of his ability to pay careful attention to the text all the while showing its relevance to today's audience. In this book, he uses illustrations to help us understand how he gets from text to sermon, from two thousand years ago to today."

Erwin W. Lutzer, pastor emeritus, The Moody Church

"Abraham Kuruvilla is the E. F. Hutton of the homiletical world. When he writes, professors and preachers read! I have been greatly helped and wonderfully blessed through his other volumes on preaching, Privilege the Text! and A Vision for Preaching. This newest volume is exactly what its title suggests: a manual for preaching. In this wonderfully readable volume, Dr. Kuruvilla takes us on the homiletical journey from getting ready to preach to the final step of delivering a sermon. Professors will find this volume filled with transferable concepts to share with their students. Preachers will find it to be invaluable as we all learn to preach God's word more effectively. Dr. Kuruvilla has written. We should now read and apply!"

Jerry Vines, pastor emeritus, First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida; former president of the Southern Baptist Convention

"Abe Kuruvilla is one of my favorite preachers and homileticians because he consistently and beautifully blends meaty exegesis and engaging exposition better than anyone I know. Whenever Kuruvilla opens the word--whether in the classroom or in the pulpit--biblical authors live and breathe. His Manual for Preaching is an opportunity for a generation of preachers to learn how to preach from a master as they make the journey with him from the sacred text to a contemporary setting."

Hershael W. York, dean of the School of Theology and Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Abe Kuruvilla knows that the journey from text to sermon is not a straight line. Each week the preacher faces a brand-new challenge: How exactly do we get from this particular text to a sermon that is biblically faithful, theologically accurate, and life changing in its impact? This book offers a reliable guide that will encourage preachers by showing them it can be done. A Manual for Preaching is exactly what its name implies. Here you will find practical help that will enable you to enter the pulpit with confidence week after week. Read it! Study it! Share it with a friend!"

Ray Pritchard, president, Keep Believing Ministries

"Homileticians and expositors are getting accustomed to expecting solid work from Dr. Abe Kuruvilla, and this new manuscript will not disappoint them in the least. Therefore, I am happy to recommend this new title--A Manual for Preaching: The Journey from Text to Sermon. Ever since I read Dr. Kuruvilla's book Privilege the Text!, I have been one of his fans. This volume fits right in line with that previous volume. I think pastors, students, and laypersons will enjoy this new work just as well. I give it my highest commendation."

Walter C. Kaiser Jr., president emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Abraham Kuruvilla

    Abraham Kuruvilla

    Abraham Kuruvilla (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Carl E. Bates Professor of Christian Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously served as senior research professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological...

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