During his lifetime, Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor was hailed by TIME magazine as the dean of Americas black preachers. Newsweek honored him as one of the 12 greatest preachers in the English-speaking world. A civil rights leader, a Presidential Medal of Honor recipient, and a longtime pastor, Taylor was called the poet laureate of American Protestantism. In this critical volume, scholar and pastor Joseph Evans analyzes the art of Taylors preaching according to the five classical canons of rhetoric, celebrating in particular his excellence in narrative eloquence, which was the heart of his persuasive proclamation. Through a close reading of Taylors sermons and careful scholarship in the discipline of rhetoric, Evans provides homileticians and rhetoricians alike with an incisive and accessible understanding of the oratorical brilliance of the man whose eloquence transcended theological boundaries and sociopolitical and cultural constructs.
Joseph Evans identifies the true craft of Gardner C. Taylors preaching genius. The Art of Eloquence reminds preachers that their sermons welcome intentionality, artistry, and creativity. From his emphasis on method and technique to his exploration of voice and substance, Evans explains the connection between thoughtful preparation and the sermons goal of persuading the audience. The art of eloquence is possible for every preacher. There may be no better guide and example than Taylor, the legendary pulpiteer. Adam L. Bond, Associate Professor of Church History, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University
In a time when our nation and world are being ravaged by the pandemics of racial tension and COVID -19, there is a need for preaching that not only brings hope but also moves people to promote and practice justice and equality for all. Dr. Joseph Evans has provided both mature and novice preachers with the standard for such preaching. By carefully examining the preaching style of Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, Dr. Evans has shown how eloquence (defined as the art that can be used by sacred and secular thinkers to persuade and convince people to take action) was employed by Dr. Taylor to move the masses. Dr. Evans constant refrain throughout the book is that he wrote to inspire as many preachers as possible to learn the benefits of using this powerful art to enhance their preaching. Cynthia L. Hale, Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church
Dr. Joseph Evans offers a precious treasure in The Art of Eloquence: The Sacred Rhetoric of Gardner C. Taylor. Evans has brilliantly captured the essence and integrity of a beloved homiletical hero and preserved that legacy for present and future generations who take seriously the call and craft of preaching. Bishop Designate Lisa M. Weah, DMin, Senior Pastor, New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD
I knew Gardner Taylor for almost fifty years. We preached in each others pulpits, and in the 1970s I was his student at Union Theological Seminary (NYC). Much has been written about him, but this new book by Joseph Evans does the best job yet of describing the man I knew. Evans describes a man whose language and manner reflected the pulpit giants of nineteenth-century Victorian England, but whose passion and zeal embodied the best of the black Baptist tradition in the United States. This book focuses on rhetorical eloquence by using Taylor as an exemplar of that art. Every preacher and every teacher of preaching, and of public speaking in general, will be helped by this timely text! As a former pastor and now as dean of a divinity school, Evans is uniquely equipped to write this book. We are all in his debt for providing the world with this glimpse into the heart and mind and habits of one of the greatest preachers in Christian history. Marvin A. McMickle, DMin, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Homiletics, Ashland Theological Seminary; Retired President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Evans deftly employs a pluralistic lens to mine the depths of homiletic methods in African- American oratory. The brilliance of Evanss pedagogical approach is revealed as he invites readers to consider the multifaceted elements in the sermonic legacy and unique cadence of the late Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor. Evans systematically captures The Art of Eloquence with a particularity of purpose in the rhetorical movement and style of Taylor. Evanss own rhetorical use of the plurals we, us, and our to craft his arguments further serves to draw readers into a shared journey of discursive analysis. This worthy project offers a valuable oratory toolkit for aspiring preachers and seasoned homileticians alike. Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble, PhD, DMin, Associate Professor, Ministerial Leadership & Practical Theology, Graduate Theological Union/American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, CA
Joseph Evans introduces to a new generation the first in-depth comparative analysis of the power and persuasive eloquence of Americas Dean of the Preachers, Gardner Calvin Taylor. Any preacher interested in the technical structure of oratory will find The Art of Eloquence a pearl of great price. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., PhD, DD, DH, DRS, DHC, Founding Dean of the Chapel, Professor of Religion, College Archivist and Curator, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
With the goal of inspiring as many preachers we possibly can [to] make our sacred rhetoric consequential,preacher, educator, and rhetorical scholar Joseph Evans accomplishes this important task two ways. First, he introduces todays preacher to just that: rhetoric. And second, he explores and analyzes the sermons, addresses, and writings of one of the twentieth centurys great preachers, Gardner Taylor. Eloquence, Evans argues, can be learned, developed, and deployed. We are grateful for his dedication to help and urge all preachers toward eloquence. Lucy Lind Hogan, PhD, Hugh Latimer Elderdice Professor of Preaching and Worship, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
Joseph Evans is the Dean of the Morehouse School of Religion, and a member of the Homiletics faculty at the Interdenominational Theological Center. He is the author of two books, Reconciliation and Reparation: Preaching Economic Justice, published by Judson Press (Spring 2018) and Lifting the Veil Over Eurocentrism: The Du Boisian Hermeneutic of Double Consciousness, published by Africa World Press (2014).
He is the author of numerous essays which include Preaching God's Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year A published by Westminster John Knox and A New History of the Sermon of the Nineteenth Century published by Brill Press (2010).
For the American Baptist Quarterly Evans has written "Vernon Johns and the Romance of Death" (Fall 2017) and "Christian Statesmen: Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gardner Calvin Taylor and African American Civic Sermon" (Spring 2011). He has written also for the American Baptist Quarterly, "King's Dream: The Revelation of Democratic Justice." This essay is a part of a special edition dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. This special edition was published in 2019.
Gardner C. Taylor described him as one of the "brilliant preachers of his generation." Wyatt Tee Walker said "he is a master craftsman who is extremely adept in his understanding of how to prepare and deliver the prophetic sermon." Dr. Evans is married and has two adult children and three grandchildren.
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