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Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures of Preaching Paperback – January 1, 1999
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About the Author
Dabney served as pastor of a Presbyterian Church at Tinkling Springs, Virginia, before becoming Professor, first of Church History, then of Theology at Union Theological Seminary.
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Dabney departs from the Ramistic logic of the earlier Purtian divines, and attempts to mitigate some of the emotionalism that was prevalent in 19th century revivalism (associated with the 2nd Great Awakening). The power of preaching, in his view, should come from the precise exposition and penetrating application of the text to the heart of listeners, and not from an appeal to their appetites for eloquence or superficial desires.
I believe Dabney's chapter on public prayer continues to be an example modeled for many seminarians who take courses on homiletics, but the entire book would be of great benefit to anyone interested in improving their understanding of and skills in expositional preaching.
The reason Dabney was great as a theologian was because he could divide an analyze a topic and then show the internal causal connections. He does this with rhetoric as well. I used "rhetoric" instead of Preaching because this is primarily a book on rhetoric. It can also be used by rhetoricians as well as pastors. Dabney gives good advice on how to thoroughly analyze a topic without presenting an overkill of information.
While it is dense and thorough and definitely not light reading, it is not that difficult, either. Dabney's points follow one another and is method is rather tight. If read prayerfully and with pencil in hand, the rhetorician and pastor will find a right, usable template for sermons and messages.
On a historical note, this book is also valuable. If you want to know how 19th century preachers thought and read the text, this is a perfect case study.