Story. Wright’s Perspective [Gospels as Story]

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

God's <abbr>EPIC</abbr> AdventureWright suggests that the writers of the Gospels collected useful and interesting material about Jesus and strung the material together in “what looks for all the world like a continuous narrative, a story.”[ref]N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 2), 15.[/ref]

In the Gospels, according to Wright, it was no surprise that Jesus told and retold the story of Israel as a part of his work.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 199.[/ref] He advances an argument in five stages: First, the announcement of the Kingdom by Jesus is best understood as evoking the story of Israel and her identity. Second, the story summoned Israel to follow Jesus in a new way of being the true people of God. Third, the story included a climactic ending. There would be judgment and vindication. Fourth, the story generated a new structure for Israel which put Jesus in conflict with others who had alternative agendas. Fifth, the retelling of the story included a battle behind the rival agenda conflicts in which a real enemy was being faced.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 200.[/ref] Wright seems to see the Gospels as the collection of stories about Jesus within a Story of Jesus.

Wright works out his theology within the framework of critical realism.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 35.[/ref] In footnote 12 on page 35 Wright makes the following suggestion for clarity:

We should perhaps note that the adjective “critical” in the phrase “critical realism” has a different function to the same adjective in the phrase “critical reason,” In the latter (as e.g. in Kant) it is active: “reason that provides a critique.” In the former, it is passive: “realism subject to critique.” Critical realism “is a way of describing the process of ‘knowing’ that acknowledges the reality of the thing known, as something other than the knower (hence ‘realism’), while also fully acknowledging that the only access we have to this reality lies along the spiraling path of appropriate dialogue or conversation between the knower and the thing known (hence ‘critical’).

In the first of his proposed six-volume project on the subject “Christian Origins and the Question of God,” which is The New Testament and the People of God, Wright sees Story as an important ingredient in understanding the larger Story presented in the New Testament. He says:

The New Testament, I suggest, must be read so as to be understood, read within appropriate context, within an acoustic which will allow its full overtones to be heard. It must be read with as little distortion as possible, and with as much sensitivity as possible to its different levels of meaning. It must be read so that the stories, and the Story which it tells, can be heard as stories, not as rambling ways of declaring unstoried “ideas’. It must be read without the assumption that we already know what it is going to say, and without the arrogance that assumes that ‘we’—whichever group that might be—already have ancestral rights over this or that passage, book, or writer. And for full appropriateness, it must be read in such a way as to set in motion the drama which it suggests.[ref]Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 6.[/ref]


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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)