McDonald, James I.H. "Chapter Two: Paraclesis and Homily." Kerygma and Didache: The Articulation and Structure of the earliest Christian message. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, 39-68.
McDonald considers the world of popular preaching as an area which is differentiated from prophecy. "With paraclesis, 'exhortation', and homilia, 'familiar converse', we enter the world of popular preaching" (McDonald 1980, 39). This was considered a normal and culturally acceptable form of communication in the first century. McDonald considers that world to have welcomed "moralistic discourse" (McDonald 1980, 39).
Among forms of moral discourse which were adapted for Christian use, McDonald discusses the diatribes used in Cynic philosophy (McDonald 1980, 40). These diatribes typically were spoken in a conversational tone, though they were monologues. The engaging style was used to focus attention on the moral and ethical instruction desired by the philosopher. Similar tactics were used by the Stoic philosophers 41). Diatribes would often explain an ideal, criticize the audience for failure, and lay out the desired changes (McDonald 1980, 42).
McDonald distinguishes between Jewish praching and Roman traditions of homiletics (McDonald 1980, 43). Jewish preaching was regularly dependent on the tradition of Scripture, following set hermeneutical traditions. The resulting midrash took on distinctive traditional patterns. McDonald describes this practice using several rabbinic examples.
We have little information about the specific homilies preached by Jesus. McDonald observes that in Luke 4:16-30, Jesus uses Isaiah 61 and may have related it to God's blessing of Jacob in Genesis 35 (McDonald 1980, 48). John 6:31-58 records teaching of Jesus with rather more detail, but in a less specific context (McDonald 1980, 49). The concept of eating and drinking may well have derived from the readings in Exodus 16:4 and Psalm 78:24. McDonald notes that in numerous other New Testament passages Jesus replies to questions using communication structures typical of the reabbis of his time.
The homilies found in early Christian records are structurally similar to those of rabbinic rpeaching (McDonald 1980, 51). The content, on the other hand, tends to be driven by the Christian view of the eschaton, which departs radically from a Jewish view. McDonald illustrates this with a number of passages from Acts. He further notes the rabbinic elements of "pearl stringing" in Hebrews 11, where there is a clear walk through history (McDonald 1980, 54).
McDonald further considers the letters of Paul to have sermonic elements, which "reflect his homiletic procedures, even if necessarily in condensed form" (McDonald 1980, 55). McDonald particularly traces this pattern in Romans. McDonald then identifies a similar situation in 1 Corinthians, where Paul describes his mission, refers to Isaiah 29:14, then moves into a discourse extending through chapter three (McDonald 1980, 57). Again, in Romans, Paul engages in a rabbinic-style sermon in chapters 9-11, speaking of Israel as the first-born of God, from Exodus 4:22 (McDonald 1980, 58). McDonald observes that the rabbinic preaching is not limited to Paul's work, but that Hebrews shows a "pearl stringing" methodology and that it contains other homiletic features which suggest a sermon rather than an epistle (McDonald 1980, 59). McDonald describes the structure in some detail.
McDonald closes the chapter by observing that Mark, though it does contain elements of a homily, is, in fact, a different genre, the newly minted gospel presentation (McDonald 1980, 64). 1 John, rather than being a sermon, is a homily, consisting of a gentle linking of ideas, mostly in couplets, but without vigorous attempts at persuasion (McDonald 1980, 64). McDonald analyzes the structure in some detail. Most of the text consists of couplets, sometimes with elaboration of one or both parts. There are a number of half couplets, which suggests to McDonald that the material is drawn from a different source (McDonald 1980, 65). The areas which are polemical are balanced by statements of love and harmony.