I recommend this book. I drew on Harry Box’s excellent research when writing my own book, TELLING GOD’s STORIES WITH POWER. I’m glad it has now been updated and published so it will be available to a much wider audience.
Don’t Throw the Book at Them addresses one of the most vital issues in contemporary missions. It is a manual for cross-cultural missionaries and national church leaders ministering in societies based on oral rather than written communication. Harry Box is a former missionary and researcher in Papua New Guinea and among the Aborigines of Central Australia. In this book, he explains the distinct characteristics of oral societies, how they differ from literacy-oriented societies, Jesus’ ministry to oral communicators, and why effective presentation of the Christian message demands that Western Christians change their approach to orality. He goes beyond case studies and analysis, allowing the reader to develop a detailed plan for communication.
- ISBN: 9780878088652
- Pages: 239
- Binding: Paperback
- Published: 2014
- Publisher: William Carey Library
Let me state right at the start that the research in this book is excellent. It is a must-read not just for prospective missionaries but for any person in the communications business. It is for teachers and preachers, for broadcasters and publishers alike. . . I find the book as a great teaching tool with good research and easy-to-follow ideas that can be adapted to any curriculum. I also see it as essential material to teach any communicator, preacher, or missionary in the church. There are some startling revelations in the book about biblical history and culture, which help any communicator add to the quality of their message.
So once again, if you are looking for a book that can equip you in communicating, especially cross-culturally, this is a helpful tool.
Harry Box has been a pioneer in the field of communicating the Christian message to those we now refer to as oral communicators. I first encountered his work in the year 2000 soon after taking over as Australian CEO of Global Recordings Network (then Language Recordings Inc and formerly, Gospel Recordings.) Reading his unpublished Doctoral Thesis on “Communicating Christianity to Oral Event Oriented People” written in 1992 challenged and changed my whole approach to communication – especially 'Gospel' communication. Harry's careful research and excellent case studies convinced me that generally as Westerners we had failed to adequately understand the communication preferences of much of the world's population.
Today as we continue to grow in our understanding of learning and communication styles and recognised that even many highly literate people are still by preference oral learners, Harry's work is as important as ever.
I am delighted to see the fruit of Harry's work now made available in “Don't throw the book at them.” It is, in my opinion, a must read for all who are committed to effective Gospel Communication in our culturally diverse world. It has important implications for almost every area of Christian ministry.
“This is a brilliant book!”, shares Charles H Kraft - missionary, linguist and recently retired Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Intercultural Communication at Fuller Seminary. Harry Box (MBI graduate of 1962) has written what may well prove a strategy-changing message for evangelical missionary societies.
As you read these words now, pause and thank God for that ability. For you and I are part of the one third of the adult world who are literate. Yet 65-70% of
men and women around the world are still unable to pick up written material with even basic levels of comprehension.
This is an ordered, logical book arguing that oral communication was Jesus’ primary method of communicating with His disciples. Jesus
communicated in Aramaic, which was off limits for translating the Old Testament. Jesus spoke in poetic forms which could be more easily memorized by his
Harry’s thesis is commended by Bible societies and by Wycliffe Bible Translators. For mission leaders, young and older thinkers, and missiology strategists, this book is a must. Harry received his PhD for this ground breaking work.
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
1. Understanding Oral Communicators
2. Contemporary Oral Communities and Their Communicational Skills
3. Why Didn’t Jesus Write a Book? The Ministry Of Jesus
to an Oral, Event-oriented Community
4. The Original Presentation of the Old Testament Scriptures
5. Principles Involved in Communicating to Oral Societies
6. Making the Christian Message Live in Oral Societies
7. Developing Christian Leadership in Oral Societies
8. The Place of Literacy in Oral Societies
9. Developing an Effective Communication Plan for
Ministry to Oral Communicators
Appendix A: The Use of Audio Equipment and
Cassettes in Oral Societies
Appendix B: The Use of Visuals with Oral Communicators. References. Index