One of my excellent seminary professors, Dr. Joe Crawford who taught systematic and historical theology, etc., now with the Lord, had a passion for truth which was infectious. I especially remember the time he got me excited about wanting to read Henri Crouzel's book on Origen. While I was there, Dr. Crawford talked about how reading the Bible as story, revolutionized his theology. He wrote a manuscript on that later. I think it was an evolving, growing process for him. On a lesser scale this is true of me as well. Scot McKnight's new, interesting and I believe excellent little book, Blue Parakeet.
I open this up. Do any of you identify? And what does reading the Bible as story look like, or mean for you and for your understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus? How might reading the Bible as story differ from other ways of reading it? Is it natural to the Bible itself? Is it reading the Bible contextually? And what about places in the Bible which are not narrative, such as wisdom literature (example: Proverbs, Song of Songs), or the book of Romans?
Of course we must read the Bible contextually. Good Bible reading and study should consider a passage, or verse in its immediate context, then in the context of the entire book, and then contextually in books by the same human author, next within the new or old covenant scheme, and at last with reference to the entire Book. Word studies can be helpful as well, as long as we note that the same word will mean different things at times, depending on its context. Good Bible reading and study does all of this either closely or by recall (not that we should think that we have to go through all of this consciously).
To understand any teaching sufficiently it must be put into the whole and in the context of story (Genesis through Revelation), but we take the entire teaching along into the story. We can't just take the part we want and leave the difficult or unwanted part of it, perhaps a difficult part to understand, behind. And it must be factored into the story.
Though it is not necessary for anyone to engage in good Bible reading and study, to have background information as to the world in the day the Scripture was written, with reference to its culture and practices is likewise helpful (an understatement, really, especially with regard to some matters such as women and slaves).
When we do this we avoid what I believe is the error of "bullet lists" to teach a systematic theology. Taken by themselves they can be quite different than when taken up and read with reference to the whole story from Genesis through Revelation. Not that we want to change the meaning in its original context. But that this meaning must be factored into the whole of the story.
One example I posted on recently is predestination and election. If I study the relevant passages on their own, it would appear that many of them are only about assurance of salvation through the work of God, as our good friend Andrew, has so aptly pointed out in his comments on that posting. But considered in the story we find that there is more to consider. Other factors weigh in on that discussion as well, and on nearly any other discussion, factors on which Christians disagree. For example in my case, even though I believe God does a work in Christians to help them persevere, I believe the imperative to make one's calling and election sure, makes it clear that our assurance is dependent on us remaining in the faith, and that a true Christian can apostasize. But in the grace of God in Jesus, as we trust, we can be assured of salvation- in the present and future, based on the work of Jesus.
And aside from the differences Christians have over interpreting the relevant texts, we need to see such teachings in the sweep of the entire story of God. This means predestination and election are not just about one's salvation, as important as that is, but it's with reference to what that salvation entails. That in Jesus, we become a part of God's ongoing work in the world through him, a work that has to do with the new creation, thus touching all of creation, including human culture, as well as helping others come into this new life for themselves. We receive the light and become the light of the world, in Jesus.
This is an overly long post, and for that I apologize. But just a sketch and example as to why I believe we need to read and think through everything with reference to the entire story, and not just within its own immediate context. I am certainly working on this, myself.
What would you like to add here- and with reference to the above questions and thoughts?