Getting to Grips with the Genres: Narrative (1)

Following-up on my 11/20 post, I will describe how biblical narrative functions and make some simple suggestions today. Tomorrow I will demonstrate its intended rhetorical impact using the story of David and Bathsheba.

Narrative is distinct in the way that it works as a type of literature. It employs plot to make its points. There are five parts to plot. “Introduction” is the first part. Introduction, introduces time and setting as well as the main characters. The stage is set in the introduction for the second part of plot to begin. “Inciting incident” is the second part of plot. In the inciting incident, some kind of problem or tension is set into motion that requires resolution. This problem or tension draws in the hearer and drives the plot forward. “Rising action” is the third part of plot. Rising action is usually the longest section of a plot. In this section, characters develop and tension builds. Rising action always leads to “climax.” Climax is the culminating point in the story. Here tension reaches its apex. “Resolution” is the final part of plot. In resolution, the result is harmony and happiness if it is comedy. The result is disharmony and sadness if it is tragedy.

Preaching suggestions for narrative:

– Tell the entire story. This ensures that you tell the story’s point, not your own.

– Faithfully develop the main characters. By this, I do not mean avoid any kind of imagination. Rather, I mean spend time imaging the main characters in ways that faithfully develop and highlight their parts in the plot.

– Allow the story itself to speak conviction, encouragement, exhortation, and comfort.

– Be careful not to kill the story by explaining it away. This is so easy to do in narrative! We treat it like an epistle and feel the need to explain every little thing. Let plot do the talking.