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2006 Preaching Book Awards: For the Soul

Each year, PreachingToday.com selects two new preaching books for book-of-the-year awards: one that focuses primarily on the skills of preaching, and the other on the soul of the preacher.

The winners this year were chosen by votes from two preaching experts and the editor of PreachingToday.com. In this article, we honor the book published in 2006 that wins the award for feeding the soul of the preacher.

2006 Book of the Year for the Preacher's Soul

Eat This Book
A conversation in the art of spiritual reading
By Eugene Peterson
Eerdmans, 2006

Eugene Peterson is passionate about the Bible. As a teacher and spiritual mentor, he has spent decades trying to coax individual Christians and the church at large into a deeper, more meaningful experience with God's Word. And, at the surface, Eat This Book is a continuation of that passion. Peterson writes: "I want to counter this widespread practice of taking personal experience instead of the Bible as the authority for living. I want to pull the Christian Scriptures back from the margins of the contemporary imagination where they have been so rudely elbowed by their glamorous competitors, and reestablish them at the center as the text for living the Christian life deeply and well."

But for Peterson, centering your daily routine around the truth of the Bible is only the beginning. The real battle—and the battle he is equipping us to face with Eat This Book—is reading the Scriptures in the proper way. For many Christians, according to the book, daily devotions and Bible studies produce very little fruit—a phenomenon that Peterson refers to as "a lifetime of reading marked by devout indifference." As an alternative, he proposes that we live the Scriptures as we read them.

The main vehicle for this "reading to live" is the practice of lectio divina, which the book describes in detail both in concept and practice. Peterson also introduces us to the history and impact of Bible translators—whom he calls "God's secretaries"—including his own experiences in writing The Message. Throughout each chapter, sentence, and paragraph, his warm style and theological depth will charm and enlighten you.

This is truly a book that will bless the soul of any preacher.

Book Contents

Part I

1. Eat This Book
2. The Holy Family at Table with Holy Scripture
3. Scripture as Text: Learning What God Reveals
The Revealing and Revealed God
The Holy Trinity: Keeping It Personal
Depersonalizing the Text
The Replacement Trinity

4. Scripture as Form: Following the Way of Jesus
The Story
The Sentence

5. Scripture as Script: Playing Our Part in the Spirit
The Uncongenial Bible
The Immense World of the Bible
Reading Scripture Liturgically
Virtuoso Spirituality

Part II: Lectio Divina

6. Caveat Lector
7."Ears Thou Hast Dug for Me"

Part III: The Company of Translators

8. God's Secretaries
Translation into Aramaic
Translation into Greek
Translation into American

9. The Message
Oxyrhynchus and Ugarit
Lost in Translation

Appendix: Some Writers on Spiritual Reading

Eugene Peterson is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is author of The Message, the best-selling contemporary translation of the Bible, and Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, among several others.