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The Power of Proclamation in the New Testament

Douglas C. Mohrmann

This study addresses the basic phenomena of preaching in the New Testament. Those who formed the New Testament bear testimony to the power of preaching, both by the rhetoric of their own texts and by their record of the church’s earliest preachers. There was never one simple kerygmatic formula, because each audience was uniquely situated in a setting in place and time, and accordingly preachers from Jesus to John responded with timely proclamations to shape their communities in those settings. Even while the composition of the assemblies changed so also the proclamation and its manifest power changed. Rather than merely describe the kingdom of God, proclamation worked to deliver it too. It was the conviction of these early preachers, however, that God was with them, guiding them in the creation of that new social reality, the church. Simple bread and wine became the body and blood of Christ through their speech acts. The power of preaching arises at the junction of human and divine inspiration.

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