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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Bible's Use of Story Telling

It is quite obvious that the texts of Scripture (The Bible) contain the use of "telling stories" in order to communicate certain things about people, places, events, etc. In fact, the majority of the Gospels demonstrate that "story telling" was the most popular (or favored, if you will) means by which Jesus communicated. Of course, we know these stories as parables, but these were stories nonetheless. I find it interesting that Jesus would use this style of communication to communicate certain moral truths, or truths about the Kingdom of God.

However, Jesus was not the only one who utilised stories in the texts of Scripture. There are many stories found in the Old Testament. For example, the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the exodus, Job, and many more. This being the case, the Scriptures certainly use narrative story telling, but why?

The first reason, and the most obvious reason, seems to be that stories capture an audience more than any other style of writing (or speaking). Secondly, since prehistory (recorded history) most accounts of the past, or of explaining why and how things are were communicated via stories. For instance, every major ancient civilisation has an account of a huge flood. All these accounts that have been recorded are in the format of a story which details the events of the flood, many with a moral implication, religious explanation, etc. to go along with the story. But by using a story style to explain the account, the details are remembered with greater ease, and the story can be retold from generation to generation. This is true even for writings (or oral traditions) other than religious scriptures.

So it makes perfect sense that if this was a common practice in ancient times, the Bible, being an ancient document would contain such stories. With this in mind, in previous theological discussions with my friends, the notion that certain stories in the Bible may not be historical has been offered as a possibility at our discussions. While this is no new suggestion, it certainly seems to disturb the more conservative readers (or theologians/Biblical exegetes) of the Bible.

Because of this I have asked myself on several occasions, what if, for example, the story of Noah was not actually an historical event? By historical event I mean an event which actually occurred in history? How would this affect my Christian beliefs? Moreover, are there actual stories in the texts of Scriptures which are merely stories as such and should not be read as historical accounts?

(To be continued . . . )

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