Hebrew Historical Narrative: Suggestions On How To Use It In Christian Proclamation -- By: Robert D. Bergen
JBTM 13:2 (Fall 2016) p. 16
Hebrew Historical Narrative:
Suggestions On How To Use It In Christian Proclamation
Robert D. Bergen is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Missouri.
At their core, narrative compositions are presentations of chronologically sequenced actions—they are descriptions of participants doing things. Biblical narratives certainly fit this definition, but as evangelical Christians we affirm that they are more than written records of time-sequenced actions; they are the very words of God—repositories of divine insights, promises, guidance, and hope designed to benefit those who hear and read them.
To express it more poetically, stories are murals painted on the inner walls of the human soul. Expressed in words, they live within us as images and actions infused with ideas and values. They are cousins to dreams and fantasies, but differ especially in the fact that their agents, actions, and ideas were fashioned in the minds of others, not our own.
God is the great story maker. Just as he created the tree expressed as the watercolor artist’s imitative streaks and dabs, so the Lord masterfully created the time, places, people, and even the actional possibilities that were translated into the events of biblical narratives. More than that, God sovereignly guided the storytellers’ art and in so doing became both the initiator and finisher of all biblical narrative.
As evangelical Christians we affirm that biblical narratives differ from all other stories in that they are verbally mediated expressions of the mind of God, authentic and accurate in every way. They are, to extend an analogy, the frescoes on the soul’s vaulted ceilings. To interact with them is to touch the finger of God.
Guidelines For Exegesis
Preaching biblical narratives transforms proclaimers into painters adorning the souls of our listeners with divinely authorized representations of God, his work, and his world. The challenge for the proclaimer is thus to perform the task faithfully and vibrantly.
Vibrant proclamation is a matter of both literary and performance art. It involves the coining of felicitous phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, as well as their skillful presentation to listeners. Faithful proclamation is the complement to the vibrant; it consists of the
JBTM 13:2 (Fall 2016) p. 17
presentation of accurate information gleaned through careful reading of the biblical text, thoughtful, sympathetic reflection on it, investigative research from secondary sources, and cogent integration of the assem...
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