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The Preaching Life (Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Series: Dan Josselyn Memorial Publication
  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications; Eighth Printing edition (January 28, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156101074X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561010745
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Taylor, an Episcopal priest and acclaimed preacher, begins with a series of personal reflections on her life, her perception of the church, and issues of vocation, imagination, Bible, worship, and preaching. Her reflections on post-Christian environments (from a visit to Turkey and her own life in America), on baptism and ordination, and on studying the Bible critically lead the reader to a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the familiar words of faith. The second half of the book consists of 13 of Taylor's sermons, which continue her emphasis on story. Throughout, there is a good balance between biographical material and algeneral reflection; the sermons support the discussion. Taylor's work is recommended for seminary, church, and large public libraries.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Barbara Brown Taylor tells an engaging story of the birth of her own voice as a preacher, the struggles to bring the gospel to speech, and the joys of being an instrument of God’s will. (William H. Willmon)

It is easy for those of us who preach to slip into thinking of preaching as a task, a chore, even a weekly homework assignment. . . . Taylor, as a parish priest, is fully aware of the incessant demands of the pulpit. But to her mind, preaching is not just a duty; it is also a ceaseless delight. . . . Her use of language is enchanting; her prose is luxuriant. Images spin across the pages like ballerinas. . . . Taylor has the rare combination of a sturdy theological mind and a receptive, almost wide-eyed, openness to experience. . . .In sum, this is a book about the life of a preacher, but more than that it is about being fully alive in the Christian faith. Barbara Brown Taylor is, to use her own words, ‘a detective of divinity, collecting evidence of God’s genius and admiring the tracks left for me to follow. . . .’ I am grateful that she is on the case. (Thomas G. Long Princeton Theological Seminary)

The decision of the Episcopal Church in 1976 to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate has brought us many blessings, not the least of which is the improvement in preaching. Probably no other woman has contributed as much to that improvement as Barbara Brown Taylor. Nor is it likely that another has received so much recognition for her contribution. . . . I am convinced that whoever reads the book will marvel at it, take pleasure in it, and be lured beyond their present stage of progress by it. . . .In his essay on Anglican spirituality in The Study of Anglicanism, A. M. Allchin pointed out the close connection between our spiritual writings and the creation of great literature. This he attributes to a sense of the presence of God in all things and all people. Taylor’s work has that quality. While all of us cannot expect to preach as well as she, reading her work can alert us to looking for what she sees and can also show us how she enables us to see it too and to show it to others. At the very least, we can quote some of her phrases and help them to continue doing their marvelous work. (O.C. Edwards Jr Seabury-Western Theological Seminary)

Barbara Brown Taylor has been called ‘One of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language.’ When you read her anthologies of sermons you can see why. She has a fabulous command of English and is a marvelous storyteller. These, combined with her deep and essential faith, make her sermons powerful and engaging. . . . This summer when I was chaplain at our Diocesan Family Camp, I read these sermons to adults as a morning meditation around the campfire. Everyone was engaged and found them immediately relevant to their lives. (Robert J. Gaestel)

More About the Author

Barbara Brown Taylor's last book, An Altar in the World, was a New York Times bestseller that received the Silver Nautilus Award in 2012. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, received an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association and won the Theologos Award for best general interest book of 2006. Taylor spent fifteen years in parish ministry before becoming the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College, where she has taught world religions since 1998. She lives on a working farm in rural north Georgia with her husband Ed.

Customer Reviews

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I require my homiletics students to read this book.
Dr. Linda L. Clader
The Preaching Life challenges us to share our faith and our imagination in new ways--would that all preachers could grab the text and make it come alive so vibrantly!
Lynda Hawkins (
I just recently finished reading Barbara Brown Taylor's The Preaching Life.
Lynn Briggs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Linda L. Clader on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I require my homiletics students to read this book. Not only does the author offer approaches, ideas and stories to nudge their imaginations, but she also models a way of reflecting on ministry that has honestry and integrity. One of my students suggested that this book should be required reading for seminarians BEFORE they begin their studies. I think that the book is so on target that it would appeal to preachers at any stage of experience.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Wilson on April 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
There is little that can be said about Barbara Brown Taylor's The Preaching Life that has not already been said in the 10 years since its publication, except, perhaps, to quote Luke 24:11 as the official church response to her work: " . . . these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." Like Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James the Younger, and Joanna (and many others) Barbara Brown Taylor's Christian witness hits home. She has been to the cross: "As best I can figure, the Christian era ended during my lifetime." (5). She knows death prefigures life: " . . . it is not a bad thing to lose the lies we have mistaken for truth." (8) And like those first witnesses of the Resurrection, she isn't afraid to speak her hope: " . . . fear of the unknown takes on an element of wonder as the disillusioned turn away from the God who was supposed to be in order to seek the God who is." (9).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men (sic) - that is genius." This is also the genius of Tayor's book: an autobiographical tale, even an old-school confession of how one articulate person was called by God even in the midst of a church in ruins and how she followed that call and lived into her calling as the years went by.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tim Parsley ( on December 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
Taylor has a gift for capturing the tiniest detail of life and seeing the infinite God of heaven. Her creativity and freshness was very filling. This book has already helped catalyst the growth of significant fruit in my ministry. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
For the pastor in training, this book is invaluable. The first half of this book is a joyous explanation of a life lived in the presence of God. As the author gives us a window into her soul, everyone who reads this book cannot help be moved.
The Second half of this book consists of sermons, which are helpful as exemplary sermons. Some readers may be disappointed by the repetition in some of the sermons.
All in all, an excellent collection.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on March 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Key themes of the book:

The key theme of the book is incorporating some of the essential aspects of the Christian life into the body, soul and spirit of the preacher. The book asks the preacher to reorient his or her life in such a way that he or she may see God in the seemingly insignificant. It challenges the preacher to see that sermon that is embedded in our daily lives, to abstract the message from the mundane and to liberate God from tradition and ritual.

Taylor's answer to "what is preaching?"

Taylor's description of preaching would be, complete immersion in the life of God for the purpose of sharing that life with the body of believers that we call, the church. The preaching moment does not belong to the preacher, but to God. The preacher must be aware of the way in which the sermon converses with the congregation. The preacher must always be concerned with the fact that his/her words are spoken on "God's behalf". The preacher serves as the conduit between God and God's people. He or she serves to seek intimacy with and revelation from God, and to share that experience with the church. While Taylor does talk about the act of studying the Bible, of choosing the right words, of understanding the sacraments... ... She comes back to the fact that preaching is ultimately God's event. The sermon is God's creation, and the preacher's role is simply to deliver it as best he or she can.

3 aspects of the book that I found most helpful:

Three aspects of the book that jumped out at me were vocation, imagination and the Bible. There were other ideas that were powerfully presented, but these three were the most pronounced. One of the first topics that Taylor addressed in the book was the idea of vocation and call.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Macleod on May 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Barbara Brown Taylor offers a book here that is a wonderful and moving read. The book takes the form of two parts, each of which offers insight and spiritual direction to aspiring clergy, clergy, and laypeople alike. The first half of the book is a journey through the growth of the author's faith. She speaks of her quest for God that developed from childhood that led to a variety of churches and experiences through adolescence and young adulthood. This journey demonstrates the struggle we all have to come to know God, and the imperfect path which we all travel in order to arrive at a relationship with God. In the process, though, she illustrates tools and elements of the journey which are important to all the faithful. This "everyperson" quality of the book shows the average reader that a preacher is as human as those who sit in the pews on a Sunday morning. For the professional or those interested in preaching, it gives insight to the necessities involved in preparing a sermon on Sunday mornings, and the importance of our own faith stories in preparing us to live as preachers. The second half of the book is a collection of sermons from the author. These also have purpose that can offer spiritual direction to readers no matter if they are in the pews or in the pulpit. For the people in the pews, they are an excellent source of understanding the scriptures that they are written on. The author often acknowledges the difficulty in relating to the words of the Bible in these sermons, but the plain-spoken way in which they are offered give them the ability to bring those words alive for the modern audience.Read more ›
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