Apr 22, 2015

The Authority of Biblical Narrative

C. Richard Wells has an interesting chapter on Applying the Old Testament from Reclaiming the Prophetic Mantle: Preaching the Old Testament Faithfully. This work looks to be out of print and Amazon has used copies starting at $172! In any case, consider the following quote that builds on the work of David Bartlett (The Shape of Scriptural Authority [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983]).

"The authority of narrative rests on deeds. Bartlett points out that biblical narrative differs from ordinary biographical narrative in three ways: (1) the goal of biblical narrative is theological, not historical; (2) the technique of biblical narrative is persuasive not descriptive; and (3) the sources of information about the events in biblical narrative are themselves largely biblical, not 'secular' and not 'verifiable' (pp. 44-47). Thus, Old Testament narrative functions interpretively. It establishes patterns which recur both in later Old testament sections and in the New Testament. It formulates the context within which we must understand both the unfolding of history of salvation and our own milieu" ("Changing the Church with Words from God: Applying the Old Testament," in Reclaiming the Prophetic Mantle: Preaching the Old Testament Faithfully, ed. George L. Klein [Nashville: Broadman, 1992], 259).

I am still thinking about how Old Testament narratives function interpretively. Does it only establish recurring patterns?

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