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Privilege the Text!: A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching Paperback – May 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


Christian interpreters have placed the sermon or homily at the heart of their practice of scriptural interpretation, yet the move from text to preaching is not a straightforward one …. It requires a theologically- and hermeneutically-informed reflection, lacking in much of the more recent literature in the fields both of homiletics and the theological interpretation of Scripture. It is this lack that Abe Kuruvilla addresses in this thought-provoking and highly original book, which takes as its starting-point the “pericope”—the section of Scripture … on which preaching is based—as the primary form in which the biblical Word is encountered.

Prof. Francis B. Watson
Chair of Biblical Interpretation, Theology and Religion, University of Durham


I commend Abe Kuruvilla's book to you for its intriguing proposal on how better to relate hermeneutics and homiletics. I have read, and benefited from, his earlier book, but this one goes further. In identifying this new ugly ditch, he also makes an original contribution to the theological interpretation of Scripture. Kuruvilla's homiletics rightly emphasizes the theology of the text and the importance of the congregation's response. His focus is squarely on edifying the church. This is a book on preaching rooted in theology rather than communication skills, and for this I am very grateful!

Dr. Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


This is a magnificent work, showing us how to move from the then of the text to the nowof the audience. . . . Kuruvilla repeatedly demonstrates how paying attention to the details of the text leads
to the underlying truth that spans all generations. His discussion of how all parts of the law—civil,
moral, and ceremonial—are applicable today is worth the price of the book. You will understand
your task as a preacher as never before and find yourself with a renewed excitement for it.

Donald R. Sunukjian
Professor of Preaching
Chair, Department of Christian Ministry and Leadership,
Talbot School of Theology,
Biola University, La Mirada, California


Finally, a book on the hermeneutics of preaching from the Old Testament that takes the biblical
texts seriously. Responding to many approaches that pay lip service to authorial intent in Old Testament texts but then quickly impose typological and christocentric meanings on them, Kuruvilla
asks seriously what biblical authors were doing with their words. With patience and great skill he
guides us in how we may first interpret biblical texts to discover their intended meaning, and then
he explains how the message of those texts is authoritative for Christian readers. This is the best
book on preaching on the Old Testament to come out in a long time.

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

From the Back Cover

Privilege the Text! spans the conceptual gap between biblical text and life application by providing a rigorous theological hermeneutic for preaching. Kuruvilla describes the theological entity that is the intermediary between ancient text and modern audience, and defines its crucial function in determining valid application. Based on this hermeneutic, he submits a new mode of reading Scripture for preaching: a Christiconic interpretation of the biblical text, a hermeneutically robust way to understand the depiction of the Second Person of the Trinity in Scripture.

In addition, Kuruvilla’s work provides a substantive theology of spiritual formation through preaching: what it means to obey God, the Christian’s responsibility to undertake “faith-full” obedience to divine demand, and the incentives for such obedience—all integral to understanding the sermonic movement from text to application.

Privilege the Text! promises to be useful not only for preachers, and students and teachers of homiletics, but for all who are interested in the exposition of Scripture that culminates in application for the glory of God.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (May 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802407137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802407139
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert J. Wriedt on March 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this as part of an assignment for a DMin course at TEDS. Below is the review I wrote for the course.


Abraham Kuruvilla’s book, Privilege the Text!, aims to help the preacher “move from Scripture to sermon, from an ancient text to modern praxis in the life of a Christian congregation.” The first chapter shows the validity in seeking to discover meaning in texts generally, and in Scripture especially. Kuruvilla adopts rules for interpreting Scripture (“Special Hermeneutics”) that frame the way that the meaning of the text is understood. The second chapter seeks to advocate for the value of pericopes (defined as the preaching unit of Scripture). In addition to their liturgical value, Kuruvilla shows how pericopes are able to communicate theology and meaning in a significant way. Further, the theology of the pericopes are able to be applied to situations beyond the immediate context, across the generations.

The third chapter outlines the way that the interpreted theology of the pericopes are applied to the Christian as divine demands and calls to faithful obedience. Kuruvilla seeks to find a third way between the New Perspective on Paul and the traditional approaches by adopting the NPP’s “gracious law” view without adopting the fundamental problem as Jew versus Gentile. The final chapter takes up the question of whether pericope theology is sufficiently Christian on its own, or whether the arguments of the Christocentric interpretation school are compelling and therefore require importing the cross into exposition of every pericope. Rather than adopting the Christocentric view, Kuruvilla argues for a Christoiconic method, where each pericope speaks to the character of God.
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Format: Paperback
How can preachers and teachers interpret the Bible for preaching and teaching purposes? How can anyone really bridge more than 2000-3000 years of history and make it relevant for contemporary hearers? Is it right for an evangelical to read Christ into all of the Old Testament texts? When should we do systematization (big picture) and when can we adopt atomization (micro-analysis)? These questions and many more are addressed in this important book about preaching, interpreting, and the art and science of hermeneutics.

Beginning with a provocative question about the challenges of Bible interpretation and how to bridge the ancient texts with contemporary hearers, Kuruvilla asserts that the Bible is not only authoritative for the audiences then, it is also applicable for modern hearers too. Preachers and teachers are to be able to do both the exposition of what the texts meant then, and also what it means for modern audiences now. The basic hermeneutical principle that Kuruvilla asserts is this. Both hermeneutical faithfulness must be matched with rhetorical effectiveness, with preachers and teachers to be faithful and respectful to the texts, and be relevant for the audiences. By privileging the text, the image that Kuruvilla brings forth is a very creative one. For hermeneutics, he suggests six ways to read the Bible, basing it on the history and tradition. For the "theology of the pericope," he calls preaching a two-step process; firstly from text to theology; and secondly, from theology to application. When it comes to obeying God's Word, relationship is foremost, while responsibility is second. With the relationship, one begins a journey of responsibility to be holy for God is holy.

A key concern in the book is the preaching of Christ.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Book Review: Privilege the Text!: A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching
Abraham Kuruvilla

Kuruvilla writes an interesting suggestion of how to better relate Hermeneutics to Homiletics. The author’s suggestion that the pericope should guide the interpretation and the application of the text rather than an overarching agenda is refreshing. The reader is not, therefore, forcing (for instance) a Christological meaning on every text of the Scripture, but rather allowing authorial intent to drive the theological excavation.

Too often in sermon preparation the preacher wears his Homiletical Hermeneutics glasses when going to Scripture to find a sermon to preach. Kuruvilla suggests that everyone should wear Theological Hermeneutics lenses in order to find the true meaning of the text, which in turn helps the preacher find a better and more relevant application to his congregation’s needs.

The book is not an easy read but is edifying; the fact that the author at points fleshes out the approaches of Lutheran, Reformed, and Dispensational theologies is helpful as well.

Some problems with the Kindle version: Table of Contents links didn’t work; Greek and Hebrew fonts turned into gibberish, footnotes links didn’t work. No page numbers, only “Locations,” which made it difficult to find specific chapters I wanted to read first.

[Kindle version only: Make sure the footnote links work and that the book can be read in Black mode (white text for night reading) before purchasing. My version didn't and it was a frustrating hassle.]

4/5 Stars

Disclosure: The book was received for free from Net Galley book review program. The program does not require a positive review, only an honest one.
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