Archive for February, 2010

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.

Looking forward to gathering with the “Saints” this weekend

Using narrative to form images

I hope to have another post on preaching NT narrative by tomorrow. In the meantime, Peter Mead at Biblical Preaching has an insightful post on using narrative to form images in the hearers. Here is an excerpt:

That’s the thing about narrative.  It forms an image in the hearer that doesn’t require multi-million dollar Hollywood camera work.  Good storytelling forms images in minds and hearts just as effectively.  In the early days of radio it was the story and soap opera shows that proved popular, not just information driven shows.  Ask a child if they are willing to hear a good story without any pictures to supplement it and they will usually cope just fine!  (In fact, some children would give anything to have a parent who would read to them at all!)

The Bible is saturated with stories.  The Bible also has a meta-narrative that gives us a sense of security, stability and insight into the reality in which we continue to live.  As preachers our task is not to simply provide good argumentation, effective applicational lists or biblical facts.  Our task is primarily one of forming images in the hearts and minds of listeners that will stir faith through the experience of already seeing God work during our preaching.  Our task is to form images so that listeners can respond appropriately to God’s self-giving through His Word – not in any way a mere mental decision, but a heart-driven response to a heart-stirring God.

Discipleship Lab (hazy shade of winter version)

Part of our constant grooming as pastors is to develop the gene of the “generalist.” Reading and observing widely is a skill set we all need to hone. The Discipleship Lab series will be devoted to the crumbs that fell to the floor while scouring essays, resources, lectures, and conversations. Enjoy!

  • Harvard Business Review shows that having talent is not the same as being an expert (here)
  • Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small? (here)
  • What Makes a Great Teacher? (here)
  • Garry Kasparov on “The Chess Master and the Computer” (here)
  • Foreign Policy Mag thinks Haiti is the “unluckiest” country in the world (here)
  • “Daddy, what were local bookstores like?” (here)
  • Is Avatar propaganda for pantheism? (here)
  • Christopher Hitchens remembers J. D. Salinger (here)
  • Why Salinger probably has 15 unpublished novels and why the world will probably never see them (here)
  • It’s not just Eddie Rabbit who loves a rainy night (here).
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