Books, Brokenhearted Theology, Meaning, Ministry, Ramblings, Reading Reflections

On Stories and Reading Biblical Narratives

Stories are designed to work, to do something.  They are “speech-acts,” not just statements with propositional content but utterances with “illocutionary force,” intended to effect something.  They are not pure literature (but then neither is literature!).  The narratives in scripture speak in the past tense and refer to things that actually happened in the past, but they covertly relate to the future.  By portraying a past or imaginary or other world they issue a promise, a challenge, or an invitation that opens up a future or a possible world.  They portray a world that should be, once was, and therefore can be again.  What they relate remains unfinished insofar as “these stories span our lives and wait our answer.”  They invite people to live in their world as the real world, even if it contrasts with the world of their hearers’ current experience.  They invite us to make their story our story.  Biblical interpretation involves not the attempt to translate scripture into our categories but the redescription of our experience in the light of the scriptural story.

– John Goldingay, Models for Scripture, 65.


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