Sunday, January 11, 2009

Summing Up the Bible: Introduction

I've decided to do something that might seem an exercise in the realm of the impossible, but here goes. My self-imposed task is to try and summarize the Bible! But how? And why?

I think it is important to do this because a lot of us don't really get the opportunity to think about what the bible is actually doing for us. Sure, it is a source of what we believe. It opens up a view of God, Jesus, and salvation found nowhere else. But how does it do this? Through a list of unarranged doctrines for us to look up and sort out? And what is the central operation of the Bible? What actually is up with the Bible? Asking questions like these forces us to have to come to grips with some sort of summary so that we can get a handle on things. I call this summarizing the Bible. But the goal is to summarize the Bible on its own terms, not so much according to the dictates of my own agenda. Here's a start doing just that.

It seems utterly reasonable to notice that the Bible is mostly stories or narratives. As much as two-thirds of the Bible is narrative. The next observation is that these stories fit into a connected larger narrative. They aren't just unrelated stories recorded individually for their own sake. There is, in other words, an over-arching narrative--a meta-narrative. Finding that meta-narrative, mapping it out, and taking it into account, seems to be the very best way to summarize the Bible in its own terms. The best way to say this may be this: The Bible tells a story about God and his creation. It has a beginning, a plot, and a end.

Of course, we all know something about this story already. We know that in the beginning God created all things. The opening line states, God created the heavens and the earth. We also see that the Bible moves through much history until it reaches the 'end' of the story, when there is a new heaven and a new earth. Already we are summarizing--albeit it, in extremely large stroke--what the Bible is. We shall return to this subject later.

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