Friday, April 8, 2011

Thesis 2: Narrative Diversity

Thesis 2: The Bible is primarily a narrative about God with God’s people, which itself contains a diversity of testimonies about the experiences of individuals and communities with God.

In accord with the regula fidei (rule of faith) of the Christian Church and creeds, the primary literary form of the Bible is narrative, in which “plot holds together and integrates into a single whole what would otherwise be multiple and scattered.”(6) As a community that affirms both Old and New Testaments, the Church must read individual sections of the Bible in light of the larger story of God with God’s people, beginning with God’s liberating and sustaining covenantal relationship with Israel by which God sought to restore the original blessings of creation to a fallen world, culminating in the ministry, death and resurrection of the Jew Jesus Christ, and finding its ongoing continuance though the work of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the Church. Because God saves creation through a community of individuals, the testimonies and experiences that find their form in the various genres of the Bible are necessarily as diverse as the communities and individuals who experienced them.

In many cases, such testimonies diverge from, contradict, and even engage in argument with, one another. By canonizing such diversity under the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has affirmed that such diversity, divergence, conflict and ongoing negotiation are not only central “characters” of the story of God with God’s people, but in fact constitute an essential part of the plot of that story. While, for example, various New Testament authors agree that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central event of history, how that resurrection shapes language, life and mission vary distinctly. The lack of closure and the canonization of inter-canonical argument constitutes as part of the Bible’s narrative form a witness to relational engagement with God and God’s people as a normative and foundational aspect of the revelation of the story of God with God’s people. Or, more pointedly, the life of God with God’s people is conversational.

(6) see Green 28 (repeated references indicate past postings)

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