Israel had confidence in its stories, in and of themselves. Israel understood them not as instruments of something else, but as castings of reality. Israel’s epistemological message was that they trusted the stories.
Here stories were posited “to build a counter community, one that was counter to the oppression of Egypt, counter to the seduction of Canaan, counter to every cultural alternative and ever-imperial pretense.” Brueggemann asks: “Can we risk these stories?” His answer: “The answer is known only when we decide if we want to subvert the imperial consciousness and offer a genuine alternative to the dominant forms of power, value, and knowledge.”[ref]Walter Brueggemann. The Creative Word. 26-27.[/ref]
It is difficult to get a handle on Brueggemann’s belief about the historical background from the above references about story. However, in a more recent book, A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, written with three others, the quartet is frank about their belief about a historical backdrop in reading the text, in their case, the Old Testament. They state:
There is increasing recognition that interpretation now takes place in a postmodern context, one in which the previously settled assumptions of the modern world have become unsettled and must, therefore, be reassessed. One of those assumptions, closely allied with the claims of historical criticism, was that history was the primary category for assessing the truth claims of the biblical text and the reality assumed to â€œstand behindâ€ the text. In our view the search for a historical reality behind the text sometimes did violence to the imaginative and rhetorical integrity of the text itself.[ref]Bruce C. Birch, et. al, A Theological Introduction To The Old Testament, 21-22.[/ref]
Brueggemann points out in his book, The Bible Makes Sense, that the historical emphasis has waned.[ref]Walter Brueggemann. The Bible Makes Sense (vii-viii).[/ref]
Story. Fee and Stuart’s Perspective [Scripture’s Narrative]
The genre of literature that dominates the landscape of Scripture is narrative. There is some captivating as well as some shocking narratives. In many cases, we have been taught about the human characters within these narratives and how to discover ourselves in those characters. Who hasn’t tried, like Abraham, to help God bring a promise to its conclusion well before its time and in another way than it would naturally occur?
These stories, whose plots and characters are so intriguing, allow us in a powerful way to see God at work with his people. The Old Testament makes up seventy-five percent of Scripture and forty percent of its material is narrative.[ref]Fee and Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 89.[/ref]
There are many kinds of narratives in the Old Testament. As readers, we must understand the characteristic of Old and New Testament narratives as a first step toward becoming a competent reader of the Story which Scripture presents.
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