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Related to sermon: Sermon on the Mount


a. an address of religious instruction or exhortation, often based on a passage from the Bible, esp one delivered during a church service
b. a written version of such an address



an oratorical type of didactic work presenting ethical demands (usually with religious coloring) and compelling the listener to emotionally accept these demands.

Initially, the sermon was a product of the great spiritual movements of the ninth to fifth centuries B.C. These movements permeated the cultures of Europe and Asia—Buddhism and Jainism in India, Zoroastrianism in Iran, the prophets in Israel, the Orphic and Ionian philosophies and Pythagoreanism in Greece, and Confucius and Lao-Tzu in China. This was a period when the automatic nature of clan consciousness so weakened for the first time that it became possible for man to conceive of his position in life from a theoretical point of view. All the movements created their own particular type of sermon. The speeches of the prophets in the Old Testament, for example, differ from those of Zarathustra in the Avesta, from Buddhist literature, and from the sermonizing tones of Heraclitus and Empedocles.

Christianity borrowed the preaching techniques of the late Greco-Roman moralists, such as Seneca and Epictetus, as well as of the Eastern, primarily Jewish, religious propagandists. During the fourth century the genre of the church sermon came of age, ornamented by Hellenistic tradition. (It is characteristic that ecclesiastical usage adopted the late Greco-Roman philosophical term “homily.”) Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa were church orators in the classical vein. At the turn of the fifth century, Greek ecclesiastical oratory reached its highest point in John Chrysostom (born between 344 and 354; died 407), who revived the Demosthenian vigor on a new basis.

The foundations of church preaching in the West owed much to Cicero, as can be seen in the sermons of Ambrose of Milan (333 or 340–397) and St. Augustine (354–430). The theoretical principles of Christian preaching were formulated for the first time in the fourth book of Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine. Throughout the Middle Ages the sermon remained one of the central genres. It functioned as a standard for other forms—all medieval religious literature is preaching to one degree or another. Beginning with Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), motifs of an intimate self-absorption permeated Western sermons. This tendency had increased by the 13th century, the period of Francis of Assisi (died 1226) and Anthony of Padua (died 1231).

The Reformation provided powerful stimuli for the development of the sermon. Luther proclaimed that the sermon was the center of church life, placing it on a higher plane than liturgy. During the 17th century in France the general cultural upswing and the need to polemicize against the Huguenots and freethinkers brought about the flourishing of a refined, literary kind of sermon, employing the stylistic potentials of the baroque (for example, J. B. Bossuet and L. Bourdaloue). Old Russian literature contributed such masters of the sermon as Metropolitan Ilarion, Kirill Turovskii, Serapion Vladimirskii, and subsequently Metropolitan Daniil. Russian ecclesiastical orators of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Feofan Prokopovich, Stefan lavorskii, and Platon Levshin, achieved a synthesis of the preaching traditions prior to Peter I and the techniques of the baroque sermon.


Barsov, N. I. Istoriia pervobytnoi khristianskoi propovedi St. Petersburg, 1885.
Barsov, N. I. Ocherki po istorii khristianskoi propovedi. Issue 3: Predstaviteli oratorsko-prakticheskogo tipa propovedi v IV v. na Vostoke. Kharkov, 1895.
Likhachev, D. S. Poetika drevnerusskoi literatury, 2nd ed. 1971.
Norden, E. Agnostos theos: Untersuchungen zur Formengeschichte religiöser Rede. Leipzig, 1929.


References in periodicals archive ?
My sermon was about God's blessings and I cited the qualification as one of them.
Mansour Mandour, the top imam at the Ministry of Religious Endowments, told Daily News Egypt that while he does not agree with the unified, written sermons, he does understand the court's reasoning for approving the decision in the hopes of regulating sermons by excluding political content from them.
Stout wrote of the sermon as "the only regular (at least weekly) medium of public communication"; noting that the "average weekly churchgoer in New England .
He thus reveals the way that Waldebys sermon collection was 'intended for multiple audiences' and had multiple functions for its readers, the Augustinian youths in their novitiate and preachers from both within and beyond the York convent.
Each of these may be further subdivided, for a sermon may be boring in two ways or entertaining in two ways.
Vernacular theology; Dominican sermons and audience in late medieval Italy.
This collection of essays on the early modern sermon in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland easily receives the attention of a reader.
In its meticulous attention to the details of its primary sources, and in the scope of its historical reach, this monograph offers a thorough rethinking of Paul's Cross and the sermons preached there and contributes in significant ways to our understanding not only of these sermons, but of the larger sermon culture of London through the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I when sermons reached their greatest audiences and when the Church of England's reformed identity was being established.
Delivering a sermon needs practice and continuous training, he said.
Pastor Wright came to Amadeus Consulting to take his Sermon Ideas to mobile applications.
As a result, it is difficult to say what is the correct formula to make a good sermon.