- nearly half of the Bible is written in narrative (43%)
- to better understand the Bible, it’s important to learn how to read this style of writing.
- we will look at 4 different aspects of narrative:
- design patterns.
- narratives have characters in a setting going through a series of events, and their primary goal is to communicate a theological message through the medium of story.
- the arrangement of characters and events within a narrative to communicate a message.
- a basic plot starts with a character in a setting. Something new or unexpected happens, causing problems that lead to a conflict, which is then resolved, and the character is changed as a result. The plot is how those events are chosen and arranged by the author.
- the same events can take on different meanings depending on how you arrange the plot and whose point of view the story is told from.
- it’s important to understand every event or scene in the context of its larger plotline.
- the same story can have a totally different message if we ignore the context.
- Take this simple story about Billy. Billy is a growing, hungry boy (intro + conflict). He keeps sneaking cookies from the snack drawer and this behavior frustrates his mom (the climax).
- One way to resolve the story: Billy learns to sneak the cookies at night to avoid getting in trouble. The message of this version of the story is to be resourceful, adapt to solve problems, and sneak if you have to.
- The story could also resolve with Billy learning self-control from his mom and honoring her wishes. The message is now self-control is a great virtue and honoring authority figures is the way to get ahead in life.
- Take the story of Gideon laying out the fleece to discern God’s will. “If you will deliver Israel by my hand, look I will lay out a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that you will save Israel through me, as you have spoken” (Judg. 6:36-37).
- By itself, the plot of this scene (Gideon needs to discern God’s will > he asks God for a sign > God provides the sign) could mean he’s being promoted as an example for us to follow.
- But in the larger context of Judges 6-8, this scene highlights Gideon’s distrust of God even though God has already provided a sign through the appearance of an angel and fire on the altar. This story is about Gideon “testing God” (Judg. 6:39), which is never a good idea.
- Properly understand the context of the Bible Story as a whole.
- Every plot in the Bible (just like in life) leads to a closer relationship with God – everything we do in life should lead to our salvation.
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"Bible Smart" is a ministry of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church of Farmington Hills, Michigan. It is used as a platform of learning for the Bible Study as well as Church School classes.