Privilege the Text! A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching by Abraham Kuruvilla

book cover

Privilege the Text! A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching spans the conceptual gap between biblical text and life application by providing a rigorous theological hermeneutic for preaching. Kuruvilla describes the theological entity that is the intermediary between ancient text and modern audience, and defines its crucial function in determining valid application. Based on this hermeneutic, he submits a new mode of reading Scripture for preaching: a christiconic interpretation of the biblical text, a hermeneutically robust way to understand the depiction of the Second Person of the Trinity in Scripture.

In addition, Kuruvilla’s work provides a substantive theology of spiritual formation through preaching: what it means to obey God, the Christian’s responsibility to undertake “faith-full” obedience to divine demand, and the incentives for such obedience—all integral to understanding the sermonic movement from text to application.

Privilege the Text! promises to be useful not only for preachers, and students and teachers of homiletics, but for all who are interested in the exposition of Scripture that culminates in application for the glory of God.

The book was named 2013 Book of the Year by Preaching Magazine; it has been translated into Portuguese.

Sample Extract

Download an extract of chapter 4 of Privilege the Text! [pdf]: “The Aqedah and Christiconic Interpretation.”

Purchase Options

Paperback (xviii + 330 pages): Amazon, B&N, CBD  |  E-Book: Kindle, Nook


I commend Abe Kuruvilla’s book to you for its intriguing proposal on how better to relate hermeneutics and homiletics. I have read, and benefited from, his earlier book, but this one goes further. In identifying this new ugly ditch, he also makes an original contribution to the theological interpretation of Scripture. Kuruvilla’s homiletics rightly emphasizes the theology of the text and the importance of the congregation’s response. His focus is squarely on edifying the church. This is a book on preaching rooted in theology rather than communication skills, and for this I am very grateful!”

Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Research Professor, Biblical and Systematic Theology
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

The move from text to preaching is not a straightforward one that can simply be left to individual inspiration and the Holy Spirit. It requires a theologically- and hermeneutically-informed reflection, lacking in much of the more recent literature in the fields both of homiletics and the theological interpretation of scripture. It is this lack that Abe Kuruvilla addresses in this thought-provoking and highly original book, which takes as its starting-point the ‘pericope’—the section of scripture … on which preaching is based—as the primary form in which the biblical Word is encountered.”

Francis B. Watson
Chair of Biblical Interpretation, Department of Theology and Religion
University of Durham, Durham, U.K.

Rarely does one find such a clear, careful, and comprehensive description of the goals and methods of biblical theological hermeneutics as we have in this volume by Abe Kuruvilla. The fact that the discussion never loses touch with the urgent task of preaching makes this volume not only provocative but virtually unique in the field. I could imagine using this as the primary text in a course on biblical preaching and savoring every chapter.”

Thomas G. Long
Bandy Professor of Preaching
Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

 A theological hermeneutics for preachers has been long overdue, and I am glad to see that this book provides an accessible entry-point into this vital topic. The move from the Bible—with all of its particularity and groundedness—to theological truth requires a depth of hermeneutical sophistication that can only be gained through serious study and attention—and mastering a book such as this. I think Abe Kuruvilla has provided an intelligible approach to this perplexing and recurring problem.”

Stanley E. Porter
President and Dean, Professor of New Testament
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Canada

In this sophisticated and lucid study Abraham Kuruvilla draws on recent work in hermeneutics and biblical interpretation to shed fresh light on the nature of biblical preaching.  He gives careful attention to the specific issues posed by the use of Scripture in the context of preaching.  Kuruvilla offers a constructive account of a biblical hermeneutic, which takes seriously the challenges posed by the Old Testament, and which overall offers a valuable resource for all those concerned with faithful biblical preaching.”

R. Walter Moberly
Professor, Department of Theology and Religion
University of Durham, Durham, U.K.

This is a magnificent work, showing us how to move from the then of the text to the now of the audience …. Kuruvilla repeatedly demonstrates how paying attention to the details of the text leads to the underlying truth that spans all generations. His discussion of how all parts of the Law—civil, moral, and ceremonial—are applicable today is worth the price of the book. You will understand your task as a preacher as never before, and find yourself with a renewed excitement for it.”

Donald R. Sunukjian
Professor of Preaching, and Chair, Department of Christian Ministry & Leadership
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, California

Privilege the Text! is not written for ‘theological sissies.’ It is intellectually stimulating and is expressed in challenging analytical terms. Yet, at the same time, it is not obtuse but is clearly stated, making it an interesting read. … Kuruvilla interfaces the two realms of hermeneutics and homiletics for the active pastor who weekly faces the task of preaching the biblical pericope … by showing how biblical theology, interpretation, and preaching fit together to serve the edification of the local parish. This volume makes a significant contribution to the ongoing conversation between the disciplines of hermeneutics and homiletics.”

Kenneth A. Mathews
Professor of Divinity, Department of Old Testament
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama

Finally, a book on the hermeneutics of preaching from the Old Testament that takes the biblical texts seriously. Responding to many approaches that pay lip service to authorial intent in Old Testament texts but then quickly impose typological and Christocentric meanings on them, Kuruvilla asks seriously what biblical authors were doing with their words. … This is the best book on preaching on the Old Testament to come out in a long time.”

Daniel I. Block
Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

I am so pleased to see Abe’s book so affirmed. He has clarified and deepened our understanding of how we preachers bridge the gap between the ancient text and the contemporary listener. If preachers will wrestle with Abe’s insights and stretch themselves to adapt its theological exegesis, thus privileging the Text, God’s people will be blessed and challenged with substantive and life-changing truth.”

Timothy S. Warren
Senior Professor of Pastoral Ministries
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

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