Browsing Theses by Subjects
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Homiletics as mnemonic practice: Collective memory and contemporary Christian preaching, with special reference to the work of Maurice HalbwachsIn his book Twilight Memories Andreas Huyssen (1995) famously described contemporary Western culture as 'a culture of amnesia'. That concern about social memory is evident in many areas of contemporary discourse. Social memory's confabulatory, subjective, and ambiguous nature makes its analysis an arena of conflicting and diverse opinions. Drawing on Maurice Halbwachs' concept of 'collective memory', and its use in more recent sociological studies, this study uses preaching theory and practice as a way of addressing those wider memory concerns in the life of the church. In particular, the profound challenge of memory work to Christianity's insistence on remembrance as the foundation of its authenticity is examined through contemporary homiletic practice. It is argued that, alongside the familiar didactic, cognitive, epistemological and contextual categories employed in preaching practice, the current crisis of memory requires a new emphasis on memory maintenance. Sermons are presented as mnemonic events essential to the ongoing living tradition of the faith.
The integration of postmodern values and rhetorical analysis: A case studyBoth traditional preaching theory and the listening context of the hearers have undergone radical changes within the last thirty years. Contemporary preachers no longer can assume the authority inherent in their position or preaching methods, and postmodern listeners exhibit the desire for increased diversity and points of view in sermons. This thesis will address these challenges by advancing the notion that attention to rhetorical criticism in the exegesis of biblical texts sheds new light on the nature of preaching in terms of form and function. The resulting multi-vocal and non-hierarchical leadership orientation has application for postmodern audiences. The methodological structure of theological interpretation undergirding this thesis involves four tasks of the hermeneutical cycle adapted from Richard Osmer’s approach. This approach engages in the task of contextual interpretation that connects with both Christian tradition and Scripture, and furthermore leads to the construction of a pragmatic plan for future homiletics. Chapter 1 introduces the problem facing contemporary homileticians: the changed context of preacher and hearer. The chapter advocates that one way forward for preaching involves the use of rhetorical criticism as the exegetical basis for a values-based homiletic, and then finishes with an overview of the thesis chapters. Chapter 2 demonstrates the fourfold task of the hermeneutical cycle by establishing the provenance of the method, critiquing it and grounding the approach of the thesis in the contemporary postmodern setting. Chapter 3 engages in a contextual interpretation of historic shifts in the fields of rhetoric, biblical studies and homiletics, analyzing and evaluating these trends. The chapter concludes by constructing a pragmatic plan for future biblical studies, a rhetorical-critical-narratological methodology that will be applied to the text of Ezekiel. Chapter 4 demonstrates that a contextual interpretation, evaluation and analysis of the New Homiletic results in the formation of a values-based approach to preaching and leadership orientation that is appropriate to postmodernity. Chapter 5 builds upon a contextual interpretation of synchronic and diachronic methodologies and advances a complementary approach to exegesis. The chapter then applies the rhetorical-critical-narratological approach developed in Chapter 3 to the discourse of Ezekiel to establish its contextual and rhetorical situation. The chapter then engages in a close rhetorical-critical-narratological reading of the literary unit of Ezekiel 15. Chapter 6 engages in a contextual interpretation and evaluation of three Ezekiel commentaries and sermons from Ezekiel 15, locating them along the pendulum-like series of shifts identified within Chapter 3. Chapter 7 demonstrates the integration of biblical studies and homiletics with the production of a sample multiple point-of-view sermon based upon the exegesis of Ezekiel conducted in Chapter 5. The chapter critiques the sermon and provides an example of the rhetorical-critical method applied to a discursive genre from 1 Corinthians 4.18-5.13. Chapter 8 concludes the thesis by reviewing the contributions made by the study, proceeds to interpret contextually the challenge of postmodern homiletics, and finishes with recommendations for areas of future studies outside the scope of the thesis.