Alpha to Omega: The Jesus Dictionary

3 reasons why pastors need another dictionary:

This is a big book and a pricey one too. Yet I would argue that it is worth the investment for preachers. I was a big fan of the original Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. I bought when I started my masters in missiology. It might seem like a strange investment but I wanted to keep my missionary reflection grounded in the person and work of Christ and it really helped to have such a brilliant resource on tap. But I want to argue that this is not just a great book for theological students to invest in but a useful help for preachers. This new volume is bigger and better with 90% of the material replaced from the original and a host of new articles included. This is a book for life that will not just gather dust on your shelf.

jesusdictionary1. Imaginative provocation
We need to keep presenting Christ in his fullness to our congregations but not in a way that reduces Christ to a neat formula, a bridge or a panacea to problems with your self-esteem. We need to present Christ in his glory and his humility. We need present the cosmic Christ and the Christ of the manger. We need to draw people to the narrative of the life, death, resurrection and ascension. We need to let people marvel at the humanity and the divinity of Christ. Christ is revealed in the magisterial sermon on the mount and in his conversations with lepers and losers. Flicking through the articles in this dictionary will provoke you to think outside of the box you may have placed christ in your preaching. It will provoke you to go beyond a surface reading of events and to discover the riches of scriptures portrayal of Jesus.

2. Keeping abreast of the latest scholarship
Too often we preachers fall into an anti-intellectual approach and dumb down our preaching or in the business of ministry we recycle old material. Engaging with the latest scholarship keeps us fresh, helps us to appreciate new depths in the scriptures which is infectious when we come to preach which will help our congregations to keep looking afresh into the scriptures.

3. A failsafe for teaching the whole counsel of God
If you are preaching on the incarnation this Christmas; and if you aren’t there’s something seriously wrong. Wouldn’t your preaching be richer if you read an article that provokes you to see the nuance and difference between the way Matthew, Luke and John handle the idea? Wouldn’t your preaching be more faithful if you have read the distilled thoughts of a world expert who has tried to be as thorough and as accurate as possible in crystallising biblical thought on this essential topic. What a great way to safeguard your preaching against heresy or over simplification.

I warmly commend this new volume to you.

3 thoughts on “Alpha to Omega: The Jesus Dictionary”

  1. There are some significant advantages to preaching sequentially through books of the Bible. Preaching a series on the book of Ephesians or the book of Ezra has a way of deepening people in their understanding of the Scripture. Practiced consistently over time and with an integrated congruity, those who listen will grow to develop a significant level of biblical understanding and fluency.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I totally agree that this can be very helpful way to preach. There are problems if it is the only way we preach though. We can sometimes miss the wood for the trees and not help people to capture the grand sweep of scripture or to do the systematic worldview creation piece. I am a big fan of sequential expository preaching but it is by no means the only way to preach – for example it is hard to find any hint of anyone actually using this method to preach on the Old Testament in the New Testament.

  2. Preaching through individual books can be great way to open up scripture in a deep and meaningful way for congregations. My problem with it is the way it is so often done, with the focus being on the shorter books (epistles, minor prophets especially) to the neglect of the gospels, which is surely where we should be looking for inspiration to follow Jesus.

    As for the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, the first edition has been a tremendous resource and I’m glad to hear there is a new edition out – though I don’t I shall be rushing to buy it at the price (unless a kind benefactor appears)!

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