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Joseph Evans analyzes how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s preaching brought the “living word” and various rhetorical techniques together in ways that helped people understand, and be given hope by, his messages. The author observes that James Baldwin—himself a gifted writer and provocative thinker—considered King to be an “Polished Preacher.” This book weaves Baldwin’s poetic and fiery words, passion for justice, and admiration of King’s oration into a detailed, thought-provoking examination of the rhythm of determination and transformative power in King’s speaking, writing, and faith.
Joseph Evans shares why he wrote "The Polished King" - https://vimeo.com/657029392
“One of the core question's preachers lives with concerns language. How does one find language that adequately distills the human condition? How do we find metaphors that prompt ethical action and manifest God's vision for justice? Professor Joseph Evans offers crucial insights in this volume on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s preaching. This book is a treasure for all who want to examine King's preaching and draw on today's distinctive approach.” — Donyelle C. McCray, Associate Professor of Homiletics on Term, Yale Divinity School
“Dr. Joseph Evans has delivered my personal favorite thus far in The Polished King! With a ‘One Night In Miami’ edge, he has turned the possibilities of an encounter between two of our greatest African American heroes into a work of absolute brilliance! Evans has skillfully presented the ‘polish’ that Baldwin found so appealing in King with a spiritual and literary prowess that enables an appreciation of the ‘polish’ of modern black voices, such as Amanda Gorman, as well as an understanding of the imperative and effective use of such ‘polish’ in articulating the hope and determination of our ongoing struggle in America.”—Bishop Lisa M. Weah, D.Min., Pastor, New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD
“Readers will take great pleasure in "The Polished King" by homiletics scholar Joseph Evans. Following his incisive book on the rhetoric of Gardner C. Taylor, Evans has turned his attention to the brilliantly polished preaching of Martin Luther King, Jr. Of special interest is Evans' exploration of the relationship of King and novelist James Baldwin--both men who answered their century's call with words polished in gold.”— Richard Lischer, author, The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America
“The young Martin King told his mother, he wanted to “Get me some big words.” Dr. Evans helps us to explore how the mature King, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the masterful black preachers who went before him, and his studies in theology, philosophy, and rhetoric, used those big words to become the “Polished Preacher” that he was. Dr. King understood he was to be a responsible steward of the Divine Word, leading people to recognize and overcome “The Lie” that held them down. The overall goal of this book is not just to understand and admire the polished preaching of Dr. King, it is also to recognize that Black preachers today, filled with that same Holy Spirit, and with hard work and practice, will be able to employ the living metaphors King employed, to disrupt the White, Eurocentric status quo that continues to oppress the world.” —Lucy Hogan, Hugh Latimer Elderdice Professor of Preaching, Emerita, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
Joseph Evans is the J. Alfred Smith, Sr. Professor of Theology in the Public Square and Director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Restorative Justice at Berkely School of Theology. He is the author of The Art of Eloquence: The Sacred Rhetoric of Gardner C. Taylor (2020), Reconciliation and Reparation: Preaching Economic Justice (2018) published with Judson Press and Lifting the Veil Over Eurocentrism: The Du Boisian Hermeneutic of Double Consciousness, published with Africa World Press (2014).
He has written for the American Baptist Quarterly numerous essays that include "King's Dream: The Revelation of Democratic Justice (2019)" and "Vernon Johns and the Romance of Death" (2017).
Gardner C. Taylor described him as one of the "brilliant preachers of his generation." Wyatt Tee Walker said, "Dr. Evans 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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