The Word made flesh is manifested in the lives of those dedicated to his proclamation. The Power of Patristic Preaching: The Word in Our Flesh presents seven early preachers who show, by life and speech, the divine Word’s power at work in weak human life.
The book is inspired by this question preached by Origen, "For what does it profit if I should say that Jesus has come in that flesh alone which he received from Mary and I should not show also that he has come in this flesh of mine?" In seven chapters, The Power of Patristic Preaching studies the exemplars of Origen for holiness, Ephrem for the humility of repentance, Gregory of Nazianzus for purification and faith, John Chrysostom for the hope of salvation, Augustine for love, Leo the Great for love of the poor and the weak, and Gregory the Great for accepting our own weakness.
With an emphasis on the incarnation, deification through the virtues, and proclamation, The Power of Patristic Preaching serves as a resource for those dedicated to the ministry of the Word (clerical, religious, and lay), and as a text for students of early Christian theology and practices. A Catholic work for a broad ecumenical audience, the book gives a cry from the heart in a suffering Church traveling through a world that is passing away.
"In Hofer’s learned yet eminently accessible study, we encounter seven great patristic preachers who, despite their human faults, powerfully communicated the Word made flesh in their own flesh to empower their hearers to live more Christlike lives, in which God with the least of us is made visible. The Power of Patristic Preaching is a rich exploration that will inspire today’s proclaimers and hearers of the Word to embody more fully Christ’s presence in the world."~Jennifer Herdt, Yale University
"This delightful book is much more than a scholarly exposition of the preaching styles and themes of some of the most prominent early Christian theologians and preachers, though it is certainly not less than that. Through the arrangement of its seven themes and its exquisitely insightful exposition of them, it presents a Christologically-grounded and Spirit-filled theology and spirituality of embodied deification. This is a book that wonderfully mediates the illumination and exaltation evoked by the best of patristic preaching."~Khaled Anatolios, University of Notre Dame
"This splendid work is a major contribution to the field of homiletics by a scholar of the first rank who is himself an outstanding preacher, hymnodist, and priest."~Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP, Pontifical North American College
"Far from being mere literary or rhetorical exercises, patristic preaching took shape in the sacred space of the liturgy and constitutes an integral aspect of the Church’s sacramental life and the Eucharist in particular. The Power of Patristic Preaching superbly draws out the sacramentality of the Christian message as an embodiment of the Word of God, as well as that same Word’s embodiment in the words and life of the preacher. The words of those transformed by the virtues communicate grace to their hearers and extend the transformative power of the sacrament beyond the boundaries of the liturgy. A remarkable retrieval of the spirit of patristic preaching, this book will be valuable for students and scholars of the Church Fathers, a vital resource for preachers, and of interest to all those seeking to deepen their knowledge and experience of Christian worship."~Very Reverend Archimandrite Maximos Constas, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
"Reading this very original book, I kept wondering why it has taken so many years for someone to write a thorough study of preaching in the early centuries of the Church’s history. Churchmen whom we know through their engagement in the great controversies of the early Church, Origen, Ephrem the Syrian, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Leo the Great, and Gregory the Great, here make an appearance as they stand before the Christian faithful in Christian worship. Hofer’s deep knowledge of the Church Fathers allows him to show in fascinating detail how the Church’s early teachers, each in turn, made the words and images of the Scriptures a living voice in the basilicas of the ancient world. This is a book to be cherished for the long haul."~Robert L. Wilken, University of Virginia
"As branches of Christ the true vine, preachers extend the Word in their own flesh. Andrew Hofer provides a profound and lovely articulation of the abundant particularity of the enfleshed Word in patristic preaching. The seven Church Fathers traced in The Power of Patristic Preaching serve as worthy exemplars for our own engagement with the Word today. Patristic retrieval must always turn back to the place where Hofer so deftly takes us in this book: to Christ as the vine from whom the branches derive their life. Deeply rooted in the Word, this book does what it claims the patristic preachers did, namely, to offer us the incarnate presence of Christ."~Hans Boersma, Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Chair in Ascetical Theology, Nashotah House
"An orator is a master of the word. A preacher is a servant of the Word. The present book shows in inspired and inspiring ways how the Word incarnates Himself every time He is speaking through His servants by presenting seven of the greatest preachers of the ancient Church as timeless models. Each and every present-day preacher of the Word should turn to this volume for inspiration."~Hubertus Drobner, Professor of Church History and Patrology, Theologische Fakultät Paderborn
"The faith of the preacher has to be purified, like the lips of Isaiah, so that his words will engage with the divine incarnation and consequent human deification. His listeners are to experience the Word in their own flesh. This is no simple matter. How is it to be attained? Studying seven outstanding Fathers of the Church, Andrew Hofer tries to detect and explain their underlying multifaceted involvement with God. This book will nudge today’s preacher to an inner conversion."~Wojciech Giertych, OP, Theologian of the Papal Household
"Father Hofer has done us a service in exploring 'the power of patristic preaching' in all seven of the towering figures he covers in his book, but a special wonder will be prompted in his readers by his exploration of the largely lost Syrian tradition of not only singing but praying and preaching in verse."~Catholic Culture
"Andrew Hofer's book is a weighty reflection that one cannot rush through and put aside. I find it to be an invitation to careful thought and reflection with reference to my own need to grow in virtuous living, and take care to preach and teach appropriately, because Christ continues to incarnate Himself in each of his baptized followers/disciples."~Catholic Books Review