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In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching

Author: Charles H Cosgrove and W Dow Edgerton
Published By: William Eerdmans (Grand Rapids and Cambridge)
Pages: 232
Price: £8.99
ISBN: 0 8028 40370

Reviewed by P Mark Pullinger.

The authors, both teachers in American seminaries, offer a new and different insight into preaching, the technique of which they have called “incarnational translation.”

At the heart of their approach is the invitation to imagine how the text may have appeared and been presented if it had been written in the preacher’s own situation, time and  culture. Explaining this through various disciplines (e.g. genre studies, hermeneutical and translation theories - plenty of Paul Ricoeur), they provide a set of guidelines for their approach with many worked-through examples. The bulk of the book helpfully applies this approach to the various literary genres found within the pages of the Bible.

This is a volume that requires time to absorb and work through, rather than dipped into, in order to maintain the integrity of the approach. However, it will be time well spent in helping preachers to remain faithful to the text whilst remaining truly engaged with contemporary considerations.

The writers have succeeded as the author of the preface succinctly says to set up a “creative tension between the then and now, [and in] freeing a passage to do its own dance, and to do it on our own stage.” This book deserves a preacher’s time and energy, and will refresh and invigorate approaches to the text. Do not let its advertised price give the impression of a lightweight easy read - it is worth much more (cheap even at twice the price) and worthy of the preacher’s bookshelf.

P Mark Pullinger

Assistant Curate in South London, with interests in music, liturgy, and biblical studies, particularly in helping others explore the larger shapes and threads which form and unite both Testaments.

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You are reading Issue 41 of Ministry Today, published in November 2007.

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