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The Blue Parakeet: Part One

September 29, 2008

Hardcover: 240 pages; Publisher: Zondervan (November 1, 2008); Language: English; ISBN-10: 0310284880; ISBN-13: 978-0310284888

For more info on the book click here. See previous posts for review of the introduction (chapter 1 and chapter 2).

Part one concerns learning to read the Bible as story (42). A problem I’ve often encountered was the impulse to project meaning onto the words of the Bible, and McKnight describes this practice as well as pointing out other common “shortcuts” taken with scripture. Reading the Bible as story means we are aware and looking to avoid these shortcuts.

“God asks us to read the Bible as the unfolding of the story of his ways to his people” (59). McKnight describes the Bible as a Story, composed of a series of smaller stories (“wiki-stories”), which are connected by the Story. This overarching Story gives us a context in which to interpret the smaller stories (65).

A story has a plot, and this one can be divided as follows (with corresponding “themes”):

  • Creating Eikons; Genesis 1-2 (“Oneness”)

  • Cracked Eikons; Genesis 3-11 (“Otherness”)

  • Covenant Community; Genesis 12-Malachi ( “Otherness expands”)

  • Christ (the Perfect Eikon) redeems; Matthew-Revelation 20 (“One in Christ”)

  • Consummation; Revelation 21-22 (“Perfectly One”)

This plot is the common thread that weaves through the scriptures. The Bible contains many stories written by many authors, but “God directs the Bible along the line of the story” (67). So the stories are connected to this plot. The plot divisions here are similar to those in Bartholomew and Goheen’s The Drama of Scripture, but McKnight really brings out the “oneness” theme in a very understandable way. This was one of the strongest points of the book for me.

I didn’t always read scripture this way. But since doing so I’ve found the scriptures come to life when looking at the Story in this manner. It’s amazing what context will do.

Some questions:

What might our more “systematic” expressions of the faith (theologies/confession of faith/how we teach the Bible) look like if aligned more closely with the plot of the Story? To be clear, I’m not saying to change a confession of faith; rather I’m wondering if it’s possible to reorganize one in ways that align more closely to the plot of the Story (as a way of teaching our theology more clearly & effectively, whatever denomination). Has this been done anywhere?

What has been your experience in teaching the Bible as God’s Story? How have you worked at this (series/sermons/conversations/Bible study meetings/etc)?

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