A few (far from exhaustive) thoughts on narrative, or, “Aesop’s Fables, Harry Potter, and Christian Scripture”…
- Aesop’s Fables are stories with a moral or lesson as the point. They are a sort of “wisdom literature.” This is how the bible gets read, even taught and preached in Christian Churches, but it is not the nature of the bible.
- While Aesop’s Fables stand alone just fine, the biblical texts need one another. One could perhaps argue that Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) may be read in a stand-alone fashion. They are included in the “Wisdom Literature” after all. But they are all chronologically located, even if we lack some certainty about that location, as in many of the Psalms. But even with the Psalms, they have a liturgical location in ancient Israel such that they are located in time in a general sense if not in a more specifically known time period. They still find themselves located in the large narrative of God that is Scripture.
- Harry Potter is a modern popular example of a grand story that unfolds over time and several books. After a later book is finished, the reader is interested in searching out the earlier books to re-understand the plot now that they are equipped with more perspective. This is how Christian Scripture invites the reader to experience it—as unfolding the grand story of a God insistent on having a people for himself.
- Christian Scripture’s primary aim is to reveal God in and through the history of a people called by his Word and Promise and constituted by his Grace and Covenant, to graft persons into that people, and to form this people after his own character. The revealing of a person, in this case God, involves revealing their character, nature, and aims. Persons are known in relationship to other persons, character (which points to nature) is revealed and aims are discerned in concrete actions. God revealed not as a set of systematic propositions, but as a personal being within a narrative encounter.