David Schnasa Jacobsen

Professor of the Practice of Homiletics and the Director of the Homiletical Theology Project
(617) 353-7322
B.A. Concordia College (Moorhead, MN)
M.Div. The Divinity School, Vanderbilt University
M.A. The Graduate School, Vanderbilt University
Ph.D. The Graduate School, Vanderbilt University

Prof. David Schnasa Jacobsen is committed to helping students and pastors claim their role as “theologians of the Word” in preaching. In his courses, he encourages masters and doctoral students to wrestle with their own theology of the gospel. Along the way, they learn as homiletical theologians to use tools like rhetoric, literary criticism, and cultural-anthropological theories to become better public, theological leaders in faith communities, the academy, and in the wider pluralistic world that God so loves.

Prof. Jacobsen’s own research uses rhetorical, literary-critical, and social-scientific tools for the interpretation of Biblical texts for the theological task of contemporary proclamation. He did this in his first book, Preaching in the New Creation (WJKP, 1999), which explored the “promise” of preaching New Testament apocalyptic texts like Mark 13 and Revelation in the contemporary context. In his second book, Preaching Luke-Acts (Abingdon, 2001) Jacobsen and German New Testament scholar Günter Wasserberg considered the two-volume work of Luke-Acts as a first-century narrative-theological writing that can help us do our own theological work of post-Holocaust Biblical interpretation today. Jacobsen’s third book was part of a lectionary help for preachers published by Augsburg Fortress Press, New Proclamation Year C (2007). His next book helped to carry forward the theological turn in his own research by relating a theology of the gospel to context and situation for those who must preach when life events (weddings and funerals) and emerging issues (public crises or social injustice) present themselves. The book, co-authored with systematic theologian Robert Kelly, is called Kairos Preaching: Speaking Gospel to the Situation and was published by Fortress Press in 2009. His most recent book, Mark, in the Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentary Series, not only offers historical and literary insight into Mark’s mysterious, apocalyptic gospel, but also relates that text to its shape and use in the Revised Common Lectionary and explores the Gospel’s potential homiletical-theological implications for today’s mainline church in light of the strange ending of Mark 16:8.

Going forward, Prof. Jacobsen is working on a public theology of Word and Sacrament in lectures and articles.  In future, he hopes to develop a homiletical theology of promise that will ground both a basic preaching text and future research on preaching as a theo-rhetorical act. From 2013-2017, Prof. Jacobsen is leading the Consultation on Homiletical Theology at the Academy of Homiletics.  The consultation’s work will be published in a series of edited volumes through Cascade Books, beginning with Homiletical Theology:  Preaching as Doing Theology, now in press.  Prof. Jacobsen’s ongoing areas of research include the practice of preaching, homiletic theory, theologies of preaching, the relation of Word and Sacrament, hermeneutics, Biblical criticism, and the connection of all these to theology itself. Prof. Jacobsen is Director of the Homiletical Theology Project, which undergirds his research into a more theologically-oriented view of preaching’s subject, task, and method. He works with homiletics doctoral students as part of the School of Theology’s Ph.D. in Practical Theology.

Prof. Jacobsen is a clergy member of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church and has served churches in Pierre, South Dakota and New Johnsonville, Tennessee. He is married to Cindy Schnasa Jacobsen, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Woburn, MA.  He has been active in several leadership roles in the Academy of Homiletics and the Society of Biblical Literature’s Homiletics and Biblical Studies Section.  He is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy.

TC-715 Introduction to Preaching

Sermon Methodology

Congregational Preaching (Situational Sermons)

TC-849 Narrative Sermons

Preaching Apocalyptic Texts

TC816 Homiletical Options (Seminar on Homiletic Theory)

Preaching on Ethical Issues (Doctoral Seminar)

Homiletical Analysis (Doctoral Seminar)

TC-869 Prophetic Preaching, Pastoral Ministry, and Social Change

Gospel from the Ashes: Missional Preaching

Theologies of Preaching (Doctoral Seminar)


Kairos Preaching: Speaking Gospel to the Situation, co-authored with Robert Kelly (Minneapolis:Augsburg Fortress Press, 2009). This book is also now available in translation in Chinese (Kowloon, Hong Kong:  The Chinese Christian Literature Council, Ltd., 2013).

New Proclamation: Year C, 2007, Easter through Pentecost, co-author (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2006).

Preaching Luke-Acts, co-authored with Günter Wasserberg, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001).

Preaching in the New Creation: The Promise of New Testament Apocalyptic Texts (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999).

Articles in Juried, Scholarly Journals:

“Preaching as the Unfinished Task of Theology:  Grief, Trauma, and Early Christian Texts in Homiletical Interpretation,” Theology Today 70:4 (January, 2014), 407-16.

“The Promise of Promise: Retrospect and Prospect of a Homiletical Theology,” in Homiletic 38:2 (Winter, 2013), 3-16.

“Homiletical Exegesis and Theologies of Revelation: Biblical Preaching from Text to Sermon in an Age of Methodological Pluralism,” in Homiletic XXXVI:I (Summer, 2011), 14-25.

Schola Prophetarum: Prophetic Preaching Toward a Public, Prophetic Church,” Homiletic XXXIV:I (Summer, 2009), 12-21.

Articles in Public and Church Journals:

“Restoring Civil Discourse: The Promise of Word and Sacrament and the Practice of Public Hospitality,” in Focus (Spring, 2013), 41-43.

“Speaking in the Future Tense: Barack Obama and His Message of Hope from a Christian Perspective,” inEsprit (Spring, 2009), 32-33.

with Robert Kelly, “Preaching the Wedding Sermon: Toward a Theology of Marriage for the Pulpit,” The Clergy Journal LXXXIV:5 (March, 2008), 43-44.

“Proclaiming the Gospel in Situations: Theological Commonplaces for Occasions in Ministry and Life,” TST Homiletics Seminar E-Journal 1:1 (Winter, 2007), 14-18.

Articles Editor, “Preaching the Gospel in Canada in the 21st Century,” Consensus 31:1 (Winter, 2006), 7-105.

“Preaching and Praise,” Preaching, September/October 1995, 21-22.

Book Chapters:

“Exegetical Perspective,” Matthew 1:1-17, 1:18-25, and 2:1-12,” for Feasting on the Gospels (Matthew, Vol. 1; Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2013) 3-19.

With Robert Allen Kelly, “Propers 20-25, Year A,” Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary (Paul Scott Wilson, Ed.; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013), 254-84.

“Apocalyptic,” in The New Interpreter’s Handbook of Preaching (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008), 67-69.

“Homiletical Exegesis and Theologies of Revelation: Biblical Preaching from Text to Sermon in an Age of Methodological Pluralism,” in Systematisch Praktisch: Festschrift für Reiner Preul (Eds. W. Härle, B-M Haese, K. Hansen, and E. Herms; Marburg: N. G. Elwert Verlag, 2005), 449-461.

“Sermon,” in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan, eds.; London: Routledge, 2005), 527-28.

“Sermon on Micah 4:1-7,” in Charles Aaron, Preaching Hosea, Amos, and Micah (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2005), 107-110.

“Luke 2:22-40,” in Seasons of Preaching (J. Rottman and P. Wilson, eds.; New Berlin, WI: Liturgical Publications, 1996), 53-54.

Scholarly Presentations and Conference Proceedings:

“Barack Obama’s Message of Hope in the ‘Future Tense’: Rhetorical Reflections toward a North American Homiletical Public Theology,” Papers of the Annual Meeting, Academy of Homiletics, 2009, 160-166.

“Preaching the Bible and the News,” panel presentation at the Hermeneutics and Bible Study work group, the Academy of Homiletics, Washington, DC, December 4, 2009.

Schola Prophetarum: Prophetic Preaching Toward a Public, Prophetic Church,” Papers of the Annual Meeting, Academy of Homiletics, 2008, 124-33.

“A Response to Gail Ramshaw’s Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary,” read at the Word in Worship Seminar, North American Academy of Liturgy Annual Meeting in Louisville, January 8, 2005.

“A Pauline Apocalyptic Topos: Rhetoric and Genre in 1 Thes 4:13-5:11,” read at the Rhetoric of the NT Section, SBL Annual Meeting in Chicago, November 20, 1994.

“Prophecy, Discernment, Word of God: An Apocalyptic Prolegomena for Post-Enlightenment Theologies of the Word,” Papers of the Annual Meeting, Academy of Homiletics, 1992, 46-56.

Published Sermons:

“Freedom from Death’s Thrall (All Saints Day Sermon on John 11:32-44),” Consensus 32:1 (2007), 137-40.

“The Coming of the Pierced One (Rev 1:4b-8),” Biblical Preaching Journal 13:4 (2000), 22-23.

“Come as You Are (Gal 6:11-16),” Consensus 25:2 (1999), 89-93.

“Least, not Last (Matt 25:31-46),” Biblical Preaching Journal 12:4 (1999), 22-23, 26.

“Joseph Was a Righteous Man (Matt 1:18-25),” Pulpit Digest November/December 1998, 47-52.

“Not a Non-Prophet Organization (Jer 1:4-10),” Biblical Preaching Journal 11:1 (1998), 14-16.

“Freedom and Fireworks (Gal 5:1, 13-25), ” Preaching July/August 1997, 52-53.

“Render Unto God…Yourself (Matt 22:15-22),” Pulpit Digest March/April 1997, 25-28.

“More than Enough (Isa 11:1-10),” Pulpit Digest November/December 1996, 31-35.

“Together Forever (Ps 139:1-12, 23-24),” Biblical Preaching Journal 9:3 (1996), 8-10.

“In the Company of Greatness (Heb 11:29-12:2),” Pulpit Digest May/June 1996, 34-37.

“On the Tips of Our Tongues,” Pulpit Digest September/October 1995, 62-66.

“Lights, Camera…(Rev 5:11-14),” Biblical Preaching Journal 8:2 (1995), 12-14.

“Next Year…in New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-6),” Biblical Preaching Journal 8:1 (1995), 2-4.

“Strangers Bearing Gifts? (Gen 18:1-10),” Pulpit Digest July/August 1994, 58-60.

“We’ve Got Spirit (Rom 8:18-30),” Biblical Preaching Journal 7:2 (1994), 25-27.

“My Lord, What a Morning, When the Stars Begin to Fall! (Mark 13:24-37),” Biblical Preaching Journal 6:4 (1993), 27-29.

“Breathless (Ezek 37:1-14),” Biblical Preaching Journal 6:1 (1993), 40-42.

Published Lectionary Resources:

“Commentary and Homiletical Helps,” Gathered in My Name: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2006 (Canadian Council of Churches), 22-23.

“Proper 18,” Word and Witness 05:5 (September 4, 2005), 21-25.

“Preaching the Lesson,” Lectionary Homiletics (June, 2000), 5-6, 13-14, 20-21, 29-30.

“Preaching the Lesson,” Lectionary Homiletics IX:2 (Jan. 1998), 5-6, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30.

“Epiphany 4,” Word and Witness 96:1 (January 28, 1996), 45-48.

“Lent 1,” Word and Witness 95:2 (March 5, 1995), 69-72.

“Preaching the Lesson,” Lectionary Homiletics V:12 (Nov. 1994), 4-5, 11-12, 20, 27-28.

“Pentecost 2,” Word and Witness 94:4 (June 5, 1994), 141-44.

“Christmas 1,” Word and Witness 94:1 (December 26, 1993), 25-28.

“Pentecost 15,” Word and Witness 16:7 (September 20, 1992).

Worship Resources:

with Cindy Schnasa Jacobsen, “The Fullness of the Word (January 1-4, 1998),” The Upper Room Disciplines 1998 (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1997) 13-16.

with Cindy Schnasa Jacobsen, “The Fullness of the Word (December 29-31, 1997),” The Upper Room Disciplines 1997 (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1996) 376-78.

“Prayer for the Season after the Epiphany,” United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville: UMPH, 1992) 311.

“For Those Who Are Unemployed,” United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville: UMPH, 1992) 541.