The Implications of Aristotle's "Poetics" for a Homiletic of Story

Dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)

The purpose of this dissertation was to analyze the implications of Aristotle's Poetics for story preaching. The thesis of the dissertation was that Aristotle's Poetics provides the same kind of foundation for story preaching as does the Rhetoric for traditional, deductive preaching. The first chapter outlined the methodology and offered a definition of necessary terms. ;Chapter two attempted to substantiate the place of the Poetics as a primary work for literary-criticism. A survey of significant literary-critical works from antiquity to the present provided the foundation for this argument. ;Chapter three isolated the crucial principles of the Poetics that can serve as canons of poetic criticism. The chapter focused on the nature of poetry, the form of poetry, and the function of poetry. ;Chapter four formed the bulk of the dissertation. It was an explication of a poetics of biblical preaching based on those principles that were isolated in the chapter three. Contemporary story preaching theory was compared with Aristotle's Poetics in order to discover what support the Poetics gives story preaching and what unique contributions it makes to a homiletic of story. ;Chapter five was composed of analyses of three sermons from three preachers: John R. Killinger, Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Lynchburg, Virginia, Henry H. Mitchell, Director of the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies in Los Angeles, California, and J. Douglas Dortch, Jr., the writer of this dissertation. Killinger's sermon showed the relation of a sermon from one formally trained in both English and theology to Aristotelian poetic principles. Mitchell's sermon showed a similar relation between the narrative style of traditional Black preaching and Aristotelian poetic principles. Dortch's sermon offered an example of an obvious attempt to construct a biblical story sermon upon Aristotelian poetics principles. Each of these sermons is included as an appendix. ;Chapter six drew conclusions from the study and made suggestions for further study in the field. The research showed that story preaching needs to look further to Aristotle's Poetics for principles that can give it longevity
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