Preaching NT Narrative (What is it?)

By biblical “narrative” we mean texts that recount events, whether real or imagined. According to this definition, narrative is the most common genre of material in the Bible . . .[1]

God has given us the ultimate and most powerful story, the Bible. Leland Ryken has observed that “Despite the multiplicity of genres found in the Bible, it is above all a book of stories.”[2] From beginning to end, the Bible contains stories of individuals (e.g., Noah, Abraham, Jonah, Peter) and groups (e.g., Israel, Jewish Pentecost, the Jerusalem Council). It would be correct to say the Bible tells a story which is God’s redemption of man;[3] therefore, the obvious fact is that “The Lord apparently values story, and we should too.”[4] If we are to be a people of the Book, we must understand the nature of how the Book is fashioned. Furthermore, when we preach the Bible, we must wrestle with the fact that narrative is the dominant genre of Scripture. Starting tomorrow, our goal in the next few posts is to understand the nature of NT narrative, its importance, structure, and features. Understanding the lay of the land will prepare us to effectively exposit NT narrative with clarity, conviction, and power.

[1] Daniel I. Block, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story: Preaching the Message of Old Testament Narrative,” in Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts, eds. David M. Howard Jr., and Michael A. Grisanti (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2003), 409.

[2] Leland Ryken, Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1992), 35.

[3] By “story” I am not suggesting mythological tales or fictional accounts. Throughout this series, whenever the word “story” is used in regards to Scripture, it is presupposed that the accounts are factual and actually happened unless the context suggests otherwise (as in the case of some parabolic passages).

[4] Jeffrey D. Arthurs, “Preaching the Old Testament Narratives,” in Preaching the Old Testament, ed. Scott M. Gibson (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006), 73.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on February 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Looks great!

  2. I’m about to teach narrative in hermeneutics, so I intend simply to read from these posts and point my students to them. No pressure…:)

    • Randy,

      Pressure? What about setting up your students for major disappointment? I hope they find something useful to pick apart in class. Enjoy.


  3. Yipee! I feel like a kid on Christmas. I have been thinking a lot about this recently and look forward to the series. Thanks for taking the time Paul.

    • Hayden,

      It’s where I am at the moment . . . and for the last five years! Please weigh in with your thoughts. I’m looking forward to the interaction (minus Randy’s seminary students).


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