The Introduction to African American Preaching is an important,
groundbreaking book. This book acknowledges African American preaching
as an academic discipline, and invites all students and preachers into a
scholarly, dynamic, and useful exploration of the topic.
Author Frank Thomas opens with a “bus tour” study of African American preaching. He shows how African American preaching has gradually moved from an almost exclusively oral to an oral/written tradition. Readers will gain insight into the history of the study of the African American preaching tradition, and catch the author’s enthusiasm for it.
Next Thomas traces the relationship between homiletics and rhetoric in Western preaching, demonstrating how African American preaching is inherently theological and rhetorical.
He then explores the question, “what is black preaching?” Thomas introduces the reader to methods of “close reading” and “ideological criticism.” And then demonstrates how to use these methods, using a sermon by Gardner Calvin Taylor as his example.
The next chapter considers the question, “what is excellence in black preaching?”
next chapter seeks to create bridges and dialogue within the field of
homiletics, and in particular, the Euro-American homiletic tradition.
The goal of this chapter is to clearly demonstrate connections between
the African American preaching tradition and the field of homiletics.
Thomas next turns to questions about the relevancy of the church to the Millennial generation. Specifically, how will the African American church remain relevant to this generation, which is so deeply concerned with social justice?
“Every class in preaching, every clergy colleague group, every minister who believes in preaching or wants to believe in preaching should have a copy of this book.”
—Ronald J. Allen, Professor of Preaching and Gospels and Letters, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN
“Irrespective of racial and ethnic background, this is a must-read resource for any serious student of American preaching.”
—Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Associate Professor of Homiletics, Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, DC
“A luminously experiential, incomparably resourced, multilayered exploration of African American preaching, this book should be required reading for all seminarians, preaching practitioners, cultural anthropologists, church historians, and practical theologians.”
—Teresa L. Fry Brown, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
"The baton has officially been passed. With Introduction to the Practice of African American Preaching, Frank Thomas carries on from Henry Mitchell as the person most responsible for and most capable of defining and defending African American preaching. Thomas demonstrates that it is not simply an appealing oral tradition but a serious theological discipline, deserving of rigorous scholarly reflection and historical analysis.
"Thomas begins with slave preachers of the eighteenth century and the issues of human worth and freedom, and continues his analysis through the decades, to the up-and-coming millennial and generation X preachers of the twenty-first century. He shows preachers that there is much to learn about effective communication from Jay Z and other hip-hop artists. He explores the question “what is black preaching?” and gives the reader new methods for analysis, which he helpfully demonstrates using a sermon by Gardner Calvin Taylor. This book, which concludes with an essay by Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., represents African American preaching at its best. The bibliography alone makes this book worth the purchase price. It is an important volume for every student of preaching and every preacher."
—Marvin A. McMickle, President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, NY