Religious Studies Paper on Listener and Biblical Text: Thomas Long

Preaching is an intricate art. Speakers to the congregation must learn the art of weaving together theological awareness, interpretive skills, clarity of thought, congregational insight, and relative structuring of material to communicate with the audience effectively. Preaching assumes more than a technical approach, to include other necessary skills that help the listener to connect and feel the sermon. When Long explores the factors that forge the connection between the speaker and listeners, he begins by introducing the need for reading different genre and process of moving from text to sermon. He places further emphasis on the note that the purpose of the speech is to influence both the what and how of preaching as the speaker seeks to capture and replicate the impacts of a particular text to its reader.

Thomas Long suggests that preacher must approach the sermon from the biblical concept of a witness. He asserts that before a preacher begins to say a thing, one must see something. This approach points out that a preacher is called to be a witness, one who sees before speak and one whose right to speak is based on what is seen. This argument justifies the pulpit as a witness stand as opposed to a podium or lectern (Mead). Going by this statement, the responsibility of the preacher is, to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. His position is that the text must be very occasion specific of what we hear on this day, from the book, for the people and in the present circumstances of the congregation.

Long introduces his talk on the different forms of the Bible and how the speaker should interact with them. He compares the sermon of past decades with the addresses of the present time that visible change in technique from a precise, definite shape to a fluid movement expressed in image richness and authority as well as the subject from the epic, the heroic to the everyday situation to bring in an impressionist perspective (Moncrieff). It now becomes the responsibility of the listener to join the preacher in creating a sense of the reading. He explores the reasons why good preachers deliver bad sermons and identify that it is because the preacher does not know what to say thus formulating an unclear thesis. He compares an excellent discourse to impressionistic art that is unfinished in some way, to seduce the listener complete it. This position highlights the role of the listener in deciphering meaning in sermons.

Long explores the shift from the speaker to the listener in sermons and analyzing biblical texts which have the potential to change the world. He argues that biblical texts are created in a way that invites the reader to develop their perception and create a sense in their lives. Long challenges the context of the Bible in an illiterate society that largely shapes the meaning of the bible to the clergy. Long calls for reformation by interpreting texts in particular contexts. He highlights the interplay of social, political, and economic factors in biblical settings pointing out the gospel of Mathew, Mark, and Luke. He adds that historical circumstances that form the context of listener involvement in the text.

Thomas highlights the interplay of literary devices manifested in the way writers of the Bible text applied to involve the reader. The most evident device is poetic language, which resembles the impressionist artists. This approach brings in the reader through question answers damn response, for instance in the gospel of John when Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for drinking water.              The literary device serves to create an impact and involvement on the part of the listener. This literary device is more evident in the gospel of Luke that helps to invoke the participation of the reader and generate theological concepts about humanity and approach to God (Moncrieff). Poetic language has been extensively used in the gospels and other biblical texts to create a rhetoric effect, which is to be recreated through preaching.



Works Cited

Mead, Peter. “Review: Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, By Thomas Long.”. Biblical Preaching, 2007,

Moncrieff, Lance. “Thomas Long – Listener and Biblical Text”. YouTube, 2018,