May 11, 2010

Ouija Bible or Story Bible?

Hector Avalos was right about one thing, at least, when he said, recently: "Surveys repeatedly show that Christian populations, when left to their own devices, do not seem too interested in Bible reading unless convinced otherwise by their authorities."

But really. Why should Christians read the Bible? Compared to any normal book, the insides of the Bible are ridiculously chaotic! If you don't think so, you've either learned the Bible very well (and forgotten what it seemed like at first) or you've long since succumbed to ouija board style, pick-a-verse-itis.

Then there's clever concept Bibles like the Archaeological Study Bible and Nelson's Chronological Study Bible. These have done well in recent years, largely because many Bible buyers (at least, of those who are actually Bible readers as well!) are desperately wanting to understand the Bible IN CONTEXT. But you pick up the Arch.Bib. and it's just plastered with topical sidebars on every page. And the Nelson's C.B. isn't really much different. It's a rearranged text with a lot of topical sidebars.

Someday we need to do much better, but when we do, it won't be with 'a new version' of the Bible. The Bible's fine just like it is. We simply need a better guidebook on how to read it. And here's why:

Normal Christian folk (who also bravely attempt to actually read the Bible) will never have much sense of context or coherence within the New Testament until we INTEGRATE the CONTENT of scripture together with CONTEXT material into one cohesive Story format. AND it has to be one that is historical non-fiction - not just an imaginative drama, but a rationally reconstructed narrative.

Chronology, archaeology, history, culture, and scripture. Will it ever all come together? Can it?

I pray so. Daily...

8 comments:

Eric said...

I hope this will come together in our life time, Bill. And I would not be surprise when you would play a significant role in creating such a non-fiction story.
And if that would help somehow, I'd like to be one of your supporters....

Bill said...

Thanks, Eric. I hope so too. And when something significant starts to happen with my ongoing project, I'll take all the support I can get! :-)

Josh Lawson said...

"Normal Christian folk (who also bravely attempt to actually read the Bible) will never have much sense of context or coherence within the New Testament until we INTEGRATE the CONTENT of scripture together with CONTEXT material into one cohesive Story format. AND it has to be one that is historical non-fiction - not just an imaginative drama, but a rationally reconstructed narrative."

Amen and amen!

Josh Lawson said...

By the way, Bill, have you read Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola? If so, what are your thoughts on his work?

Bill said...

Sigh. Somebody finally asked. Fine, then.

Frank's 'Untold Story' gives a lot of people a good eye-opening as to the advantage of seeing NT passages in their larger context. My main problem with Frank's content is that he didn't do any of his own work. He just regurgitated what others have done, going mainly by the consensus among conservative christian scholars. I myself have major problems with conservative chrisitan scholars, and I suspect Frank still hasn't realized the implications of a lot of what he included.

In short, Frank put together what was already out there in order to finish & publish quickly. In that dept, he's got me beat by a mile. But I think we need more. And I think we need better.

Much better.

mike fox said...

bill,

this is very interesting. but alas! i'm afraid i'm not able to picture what the, well, end product you're describing would look like. can you help me out with a bit more detail? i think i hear you saying that we need a work that retells the story of the NT in way that also, well, what's the also part? language that describes the historical setting?

or am i totally missing what you're saying?

either way, very interesting, and thanks for your time.

-mike

Bill said...

The also part is solidity. Is that a word? What I mean is, not creative writing. In the past, there's been way too much literary license from folks who've tried reconstructing the Story.

Of course, that fine line is also a question depending on where your theory of historiography comes into play... which is something else I'm trying to work on.

Clear as mud, eh?

mike fox said...

lol no, not "clear as mud." as an OT guy, i CAN relate to slipperiness of the task of determining one's stance(s) on historiography.

Recent Posts
Recent Posts Widget