The Pulpit Comes Alive

The Pattern of Christ, by David H. C. Read (Scribners, 1967, 94 pp., $2.95), and The Parables, by Gerald Kennedy (Harper & Row, 1967, 213 pp., $1.60, paperback), are reviewed by Donald Macleod, professor of homiletics, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.

These two books of sermons, each by a preacher of unusual reputation in his own denomination, are representative of the output of men who believe in the efficacy and integrity of the Christian pulpit. Here the similarity ends, for in their source materials and interpretative methods these two homileticians are of very different genres.

In an age in which the integrity of preaching is questioned (especially by those who have never experienced it) and the aim of being a great preacher is suspect (particularly among those who cannot do it), David H. C. Read continues to accept the claim and discipline of what seems to him to be eminently worthwhile. His first book, Prisoner’s Quest (Macmillan, 1945), introduced him to America, and the promise this volume showed has been realized in the five titles that have followed. A recent questionnaire circulated among discriminating sermon-tasters placed Dr. Read consistently at the head of the list of highly effective preachers in the United Presbyterian Church.

In this latest book, Dr. Read, who for ten years has been senior minister of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City, deals with six beatitudes from the sermon on the Mount and one from John 20:29. He interprets the significance of these great sayings for the twentieth century in sermons that show the fruits of a classical education, exegetical know-how, and reading in depth in good literature. He discloses nuances of thought ...

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