Book Review: The Beauty and Power of Biblical Exposition

My Rating: Put it on your list

Level: Easy read, some Biblical knowledge needed; moderate length (under 300)


As the subtitle indicates, the book is about preaching the genres of the Bible. It is written to pastors, but I think anyone leading a Bible study, or interested in getting a better understanding of genres can benefit. The book is broken into six chapters – The Greatest Story Ever Told (Preaching Narrative), Let Him Who Has Ears Hear (Preaching Parables), Love Letters (Preaching Epistles), The Beauty of Simple (Preaching Poetry), Words of Wisdom (Preaching Proverbs), And I Saw (Preaching Visionary Writings). Each chapter is broken into two parts, reading and preaching. Additionally, each chapter ends with resources for deeper dives into the genre. There is also an introduction and a conclusion. 

My Thoughts

This book is a great introduction to the genres (broadly defined) of the Bible. While it is geared toward preachers, with additional notes about preaching and parts of sermons in various chapters, it is still a helpful book for any Bible teachers or anyone interested in a better understand of the Bible. If you haven’t been exposed to literary aspects or genres of the Bible, this will help you read it well, and I think the book could also be used by itself as part of a study for a community group. People are generally familiar with narrative, you’ve probably heard a sermon/teaching on parables, but most people have not had much introduction to proverbs or visionary wittings, and certainly not much about poetry. The poetry chapter alone is probably worth the price of the book. 

The author does a good job of not being too narrow (explaining how much poetry is throughout the Bible, and looking into proverbs that aren’t just the book of Proverbs). This is especially true in the visionary writings chapter, while heavy on Revelation, the chapter didn’t focus on it only. The split of each chapter on reading, then preaching is valuable. The first part offers a great intro to the genre, with the second part being on preaching (or teaching). 

In some ways, it was odd that this is written for preaching, as I would expect most preachers/pastors to have learned these structures in seminary or somewhere else before preaching. That said, I think it is great that genre is getting some publicity, and it’s focus is getting to more people, especially those interested in teaching. Too many errors in interpreting various verses/chapters in the Bible come from not having even a basic understanding of literature. 

Overall, the book is valuable and a good place to start for those wanting to learn more about writings of the Bible, the end of each chapter gives additional resources (books) you can look into to expand your understanding. For those who aren’t preachers, it is still a book to add to your list. I’m not sure you’ll find a better intro to genres of the Bible. O’Donnell has a bit of a ‘preaching’ stick that gets a little long/redundant, but most points are still applicable to regular teachers and Bible study leaders. 


*I received a free copy of this book from Crossway, in exchange for an honest review.

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