Crafting a Theological Sentence

I’ve edited many books about theology, biblical studies, and church history. Most of this work is for the academic market, but the publishers I work with also hope that these books find a more general readership. As a result, I read a lot of readable manuscripts on very interesting subjects.

But it’s not all easy to read and digest, and some very brilliant people could use some help. The Sense of Style by Steve Pinker is one place to start. The book looks closely at what makes for good communication, and goes a long way to dispelling the long-held myth (in academia, anyway) that using dense language and long words to “sound smart” is not the path to clear communication.

Of more interest to the authors I work with would be The Work of Theology by Stanley Hauerwas, at least his chapter, “How to Write a Theological Sentence.” The chapter addresses the concern echoed by Philip Zoutendam over at Eerdmans: “There seems a venerable tradition among this guild [of theologians], starting with the original capital-T Theologian himself, good old St. Paul, of saying the most important things in the most difficult language.”

Hauerwas gives some great advice to rookie and veterans alike: You can read an excerpt from the chapter on the EerdWord site.