Brian's Notes - Part 3
Read Part 2 here
Can you suggest a methodology, or even an attitude we should adopt, in reading scripture again – for the first time – in order to see it in the light of “narrative theology”?
This is huge. My first thought is "Read Brueggemann." He has helped me greatly in this regard.
My second thought is some advice a former colleague, Jose Torres, passed on to me: "If something is weird in the Bible, don't try to make it normal. Face its weirdness. Wrestle with it. Don't try to smooth the lumps and wrinkles in the bed; pull up the covers and see what's under there. Some of the greatest treasures come from the weirdest places." That advice has served me well.
Also, I think it's great to read weird commentaries - weird relative to your own upbringing or bias or training. For example, I saw Genesis in a new light after reading Alan Dershowitz's book "The Genesis of Justice," and Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael." In postmodern jargon, this involves listening to "the voice of the other" - seeing from someone else's perspective. I have some Jewish friends who occasionally come to my church - which makes me hear everything differently, because every time the word "Jews" comes up, or even when the name of "Jesus" is said, I can't help but think of how it sounded in their ears. I think these experiences help us with the Bible - asking, "How would this have sounded in the ears of the original hearers?" That involves imagination, which is pretty hard to turn into a technique or methodology, I suppose.
I just finished preaching through Colossians. I can't tell you how fresh it was for me. My dispensationalist-Calvinist upbringing always taught me to read the Bible looking for a couple of key doctrines (total depravity/original sin, justification by grace through faith, penal atonement, etc.). It was all individualistic, all hell-avoidance-oriented, etc. I've been away from that long enough now - plus I just returned from part of the summer in Africa where I was exposed to the fruits of colonial-Christianity - that I was able to read Colossians not as personalistic/individualistic - but as global, social, cosmic, historic, revolutionary, political - and the internal coherence in this reading was staggering to me. (I'm not saying I preached it that well!)