An attentive reader of the gospels, particularly the synoptic gospels, would notice there is a marked transition from Jesus’ itinerant preaching throughout Israel and to his later Jerusalem focused activity. Not only is there a difference in what he did but his attitude as well. In Matthew, Mark and Luke he goes about Israel announcing the good news of God’s imminent kingdom. (In other posts I explain what the gospel and the kingdom of God actually mean in scripture.) In the third act which is set in Jerusalem and it’s environs, Jesus drops his earlier kingdom preaching. It is not that the kingdom of God is no longer thematically important. On the contrary it rather intensifies.
The Bible contains diverse forms of literature but by the numbers narrative is the largest genre. For the last three years writing on this platform I have repeatedly been referring to the story of the Bible in various ways. I have called it the grand/controlling/central narrative. My favourite term is metanarrative because it means the story of stories and as a conceptual tool it is very useful. The one thing I have failed to do is actually point out which narratives come together to form the metanarrative. If you wanted to know the biblical story, which books of the Bible should you read? Continue reading “Reading the Biblical Story”
As I have mentioned several times, last year was my year of the Hebrew Bible. I gained a wonderful new passion for it. Beyond my personal enthusiasm for the text, in that period I came to have some very clear and serious convictions about the text that I think all Christians must have. I recognise that it is an ambitious thing to say all Christians must think this way about this thing. However, we are Christians because we hold certain dogmas just as any group has it defining qualities. While my love for the Hebrew Bible was nurtured by scholarship, the strength of the convictions I developed about it came from the different things I observed and experienced last year. It is not so much that I did not have those beliefs but I came to see their preeminence. Continue reading “The Orthodoxy of the Scriptures”
One of the fundamental questions a Christian should ask is ‘What is the Bible?’ Continue reading “What really is the Bible?”
On this blog I have often spoken about the importance of treating scripture as literature. Part of that is recognising the macrostructure of scripture at various levels. The gospels all present individual accounts of Jesus but when you compare them to each other, there is an overarching narrative structure they all follow. This macrostructure consists of basically three acts: a beginning, a middle and an end. Specifically, these parts in Jesus’ narrative are his introduction, vocation and the resolution of his mission. There is much to be said in detail about each part but instead I will provide a quick sketch. Continue reading “The Grand Drama of the Gospels”
“What time is it?” It’s the question we have all asked but have we ever paused to consider what we mean by it? Of course we know what we mean by it, don’t we? The average person just wants to know what the clock says but the answer to the very profound question of the nature of time is something we simply assume. We take it for granted that it exists, it happens to us, it’s inescapable and it moves inexorably forward. Since we perceive time as a basic reality that is fundamental to even our most mundane experiences, it seems almost ridiculous to pause long enough to reflect on what it actually is, while life steams relentlessly forward. We see it as a lived reality not a subject of reflection. Time is like a wrist watch, it always goes with us, we want to know what it says but never bother to find out what makes it tick. Continue reading “Story Time”