Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
ATJ 37 (2005) p. 99
Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004. 252 pp., $19.99.
The prevailing practice in biblical scholarship is to examine the Old and New Testament documents on their own terms, apart from the rest of the canon. Bartholomew and Goheen take a different approach. They step back from the historical-critical task and present the entire Protestant canon as a single, unified story of God’s work in the world. Rather than a work of critical scholarship, which would focus on the historical context or textual questions, their book is an attempt at narrative theology. It does draw, however, on the latest scholarship in its presentation of the biblical narrative and therefore serves as a worthy introduction or teaching tool.
After an opening Prologue, in which they lay out their presuppositions of the Bible as a single, grand narrative, the authors turn to the selections of Scripture that compose their telling of the story. The remainder of the book is structured in six Acts and an Interlude. Acts One and Two tell the story of creation and fall. Act Three, the longest in the book, portrays the history of the Nation of Israel. The Interlude stands in for the intertestamental period, with special attention paid to Jewish culture in the years leading up to the beginning of the Common Era. Acts Four and Five describe the life of Jesus and the development of the early church, with a closing movement on living in God’s story today. Finally, the drama ends with Act Six, as the authors point toward the coming eschatological work of God.
The book has several strengths. It is a highly readable work. The authors’ clear and simple writing style allows the reader to be caught up in the movement of the story itself. The book also contains twenty six figures, the majority of which are well-placed maps, which add to the sense of story and make the characters’ movements and actions more conceivable. Other figures provide visual reference for some of the theological concepts that arise in the course of the story. Finally, the authors maintain a good balance between the biblical story itself and the historical background behind the story.
At times this historical context is presented in what scholars would regard as an over-simplified manner. Little or no space is given to the debates over particular historical-critical issues. Such a presentation, however, is well within Bartholomew and Goheen’s thesis. The Drama of Scripture does not argue that the Bible is a single, unified story; it simply assumes that it is and builds on that assumption.
The book has several possible uses. It would be an excellent companion text in an...
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