Long's "Witness of Preaching" 2005

Long, Thomas G. The Witness of Preaching. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY. 2005. 259 pages.

Commonly used as a textbook in homiletics courses, this book covers everything the practicing preacher needs to consider as he prepares a homily. Long begins with an analysis of “what it means to preach” and continues with textual exegesis; narrowing down a main message; research, selection, and organization of content; crafting of the beginning and end of a homily; and even work process. Throughout, Long presents short discussions of historical controversies surrounding the form of homilies, as well as expounds the theological implications of various practical choices in homily development.

The strengths of this book are: (1) its exceptionally clear prose, accessible to any average reader; (2) its copious use of examples (both good and bad) from real homilies to illustrate concretely how the principles taught manifest in practice; and (3) Long’s honest and Gospel-grounded assessments of the many options available to preachers developing a homily. Its weaknesses are that: (1) occasionally, the other homiletic methods criticized by Long are different from his recommended methods only in the abstract, but not in practice; and (2) being a Protestant resource, the book does not take the unique context and history of Catholic preaching into consideration. It is nonethless a highly recommended work for those attempting to improve the clarity and engagingness of their homilies.