Monday, September 22, 2008

review of The Blue Parakeet, by Scot McKnight

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, by Scot McKnight

I was fortunate to be one of the readers of Jesus Creed, to receive Zondervan's offer of an "advance reader copy" of this book. This was offered to the first set number of those responding- I believe I got in on the second wave/offer of this- with the understanding that we are to post a review of the book.

For me this is an advance in my understanding of how we're to read the Bible. Scot clearly helps us see the different ways Christians read Scripture which he believes- and I agree- are mistaken. Here is his list, especially referring to difficult passages:
  • to treat the Bible as a collection of laws
  • to treat the Bible as a collection of blessing and promises
  • to treat the Bible as a Rohrschach inkblot onto which we can project our own ideas
  • to treat the Bible as a giant puzzle that we are to puzzle together
  • to treat one of the Bible's authors as a Maestro
(p. 209)

Scot deals with each to help us learn to read the Bible in a better way- reflective of the major place narrative has in its writing- as the Story of God in Jesus in which we can find our story, written with us in view and for us. As we learn to read the Bible as story we learn that God speaks through major characters (such as Moses and John) in their ways for their days. And that this is meant to be carried on in every time and culture in various ways for different days. Of course each "lead us to the person of the Story: Jesus Christ" who is "the goal and the center of each wiki-story." (p. 210)

Scot lists "the major elements of that story:
  1. God and creation
  2. Adam and Eve as Eikons who crack the Eikon
  3. God's covenant community, where humans are restored to God, self, others, and the world
  4. Jesus Christ, who is the Story and in whose story we are to live
  5. the church as Jesus' covenant community
  6. the consummation, when all the designs of our Creator God will finally be realized forever and ever
(p. 210)

Another important point Scot makes is that we should read the Bible with tradition, and not through (the lens of) tradition. In other words we can learn alot from "the Great Tradition" of the church, and not have to reinvent the wheel, or many of the good things that follow, and we should. But we also must remember that tradition is not infallible, while God's word, Scripture, is. So all tradition must be critiqued on the basis of Scripture.

Scot also helps us consider just how we pick and choose what directly is for today, what may be lived out today in another way, and what might have no bearing today whatsoever. Both in Old and New Testament passages.

The title, The Blue Parakeet came from Scot and his wife Kris actually seeing a blue parakeet in their back yard, and the reaction sparrows had to this strange newcomer. At first the sparrows were terrified. But then they began to imitate the parakeet, in rapt attention to it.

Scot likens that blue parakeet to passages in the Bible which leave us with clues of how God is working in ways that are surprising and outside of the norm. What women did in both the Old and New Testaments (WDWD- as in What Did Women Do?) is noted in some highlights. I agree with Scot on women and ministry, as well as the words in Genesis 3:16: "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you," as applying to the fall, and not to be a part of the new creation beginning now, in Jesus. And he explains that well.

Scot takes a good look at 1 Timothy 2:9-15 with the interesting question as to how we live out all that is written there today. So far for me, along with the 1 Corinthians 14 passage (note the passage both in the book, an appendix and the footnotes, and its textual problem), this is the clearest and most compelling understanding of this issue. I think Scot gives us good reasons to understand from the passages, particularly from 1 Timothy that after women learn, and thus no longer need to be silent, then they can do what we find them doing throughout the Bible, and especially in the New Testament: both lead and teach.

This is a fine book written clearly for the entire church by a first rate Bible, New Testament and Jesus scholar. My wife Deb, read it and likes it, as well. It is a book I will want to refer to and reread, definitely one of those few books I'd buy, being on a relatively tight book budget. Pick it up and read. It will at least challenge your thinking.


Anonymous said...

sounds interesting.

Ted M. Gossard said...


I really think you'd like this book, alot. And alot about women in ministry in it. You're a blue parakeet, too, you know.