Just How Well Do We Know How To Prepare a Sermon



  1. Homiletics (Gr. homiletikos, from homilos, to assemble together), in theology, is the application of the general principles of rhetoric to the specific department of public preaching. The one who practices or studies homiletics is called a homilist.
  2. homiletics comprises the study of the composition and delivery of a sermon or other religious discourse. It includes all forms of preaching, viz., the sermon,
  3. It may be further defined as the study of the analysis, classification, preparation, composition and delivery of sermons.


Preaching requires an understanding of oratory: Augustine explains his homiletics in Book IV of DDC. He describes it practically in relation to the classical theory of oratory, which has five parts:

  1. The choice of the subject and decisions of the order (inventio)
  2. The structure of the oration: (dispositio)
  3. The arrangement of words and figure of speech elocutio)
  4. Learning by heart (memoria)
  5. The delivery (pronuntiatio)

He constructed this theory in four parts:

  1. the basic principles of rhetoric
  2. a study on the rhetoric of Scriptural texts
  3. n analysis of styles and
  4. some peculiar rules of rhetoric for sermons ).

Three styles of sermons

  1. (genera tenue / docere [to teach];
  2. genera medium / delectare [to amuse];
  3. genera grande / flectere [to ersuade]),


Augustine stresses the importance of principle and discipline at the same time.

  1. Preachers need to practice again and again so that they can use these styles in any situation of preaching .
  2. But they should pay attention to the priority of order.
  3. Continuous and diligent study of the Bible is more important than mere memorization, that is to say, they should pursue wisdom more than knowledge
  4. The best is the combination of wisdom and eloquence as seen in the Pauline letters and prophetic writings
  5. Yet, he does not praise eloquence itself; rather he prefers a concrete proclamation than a showing off of rhetorical technique


  1. It is truth, not rhetoric, that preachers try to deliver

What is Rhetoric

  1. A body of rules which serve in order to produce texts ‘according to the rules of art’ (either written or spoken)

Purpose of Rhetoric
The purpose of rhetoric is to

  1. persuade:
  2. intellectually (docere) and
  3. emotionally (delectare, movere).


  1. DOCERE: using LOGOS (appeal to reason)
  2. DELECTARE: using ETHOS (appeal to character)
  3. MOVERE: using PATHOS (appeal to emotion)

A speech, according to the classical pattern, has four parts:

1.EXORDIUM (prooimion, introduction, Einleitung)
2.NARRATIO (diegesis , narration, Erzählung)
3.ARGUMENTATIO (pistis, argument, Beweis)
4.PERORATIO (epilogos, conclusion, Schluß)




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