Preaching and Story – Part 4

So we have been thinking this week about the role of the Bible story in our preaching.  We haven’t thought about how the individual stories relate to the big story as a whole, the redemption history, as it were.  Perhaps that would be worth a post at some point (actually I know it would because some preachers seem so eager to fit everything in its macro context that the particular text they claim to be preaching gets lost or somehow reworked so that the actual message of the text is lost in the mix . . . but that is for another day).  We have considered the importance of entering into the narrative, and trusting the narrative to offer more than illustration and introduction, and thinking through how to increase the impact of a narrative by retelling and revisiting it before moving on.  Now to the final implication in this series.  This weekend I should be returning from Asia and will be looking forward to seeing what comments have been sparked by this series!

4. When preaching “non-narrative” sections, consider how they are snapshots of a narrative. There are three main types of literature in the Bible, and about seven major genre.  One of the three types is narrative, the most common one, but still leaving two non-narrative types (poetry and discourse).  A couple of the genre are narrative (history and gospel, including parables), again with lots of page space, but also leaving five that are non-narrative (psalm, prophecy, wisdom, apocalyptic, epistle.)  But stop the bus for a minute!  Are these other types and genres non-narratival?  Aren’t poetry and discourse both snapshots into a narrative?  Discourse, be it epistle or speech, is given in the context of a narrative situation.  And it may be harder to accurately know the context that gave rise to a particular poem, but human nature leads us to wonder and often to reconstruct such a narrative (be careful not to then interpret a poem in light of a reconstructed narratival context, but why not tap into the emotional setting of a fallen world that sparks such poetry?)

I will extend this series by one post and tomorrow consider the five supposedly non-narratival genres to see how they are, in fact, more narrative-ish than we tend to think!

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