Episode 7: POV - Larger Box Pt 1 - Story of the Bible
In this episode Jimmy and Patty continue the conversation in their Point of View (POV) series.
Taking a step backwards to see how our box fits into the larger box of the bible and church history is the next step in our POV series.
In part one of this larger box discussion we will be looking at the overall story of the bible to see how our POV fits into the story.
Now that we have come to understand a little more about our box, by looking at our church’s creed or statement of faith. We are going to try and see how we fit into the larger box of church history. You can think of this as your superhero origin story.
Every superhero has an origin story, or their own personal history. However, all superhero’s fit into a larger drama, that predates them and is much larger than themselves.
- Grew up in a small town
- Was from another planet (Krypton)
- Krypton was destroyed in an intergalactic war
- Superman was almost all powerful (except for kryptonite)
- Faced enemies that were capable of destroying worlds
- Major themes were the appropriate use of nearly unlimited power and defending those who could not defend themselves
- Grew up in a rich privileged family
- Parents were murdered in front of him
- Vowed to avenge his parents and restore peace and justice
- Gotham city was the epicenter for anarchy and disorder from a crop of supervillains that had been active since before he was born
- Eventually he was brought into larger galactic conflict
- Though he has no superpowers (like superman) he was considered by many the most powerful and dangerous of the Justice League because of his intellect and vast resources
**Neither character fully trusted the other. Batman did not like that superman had the power to the destroy the entire planet if he wanted to. And Superman did not trust that Batman shared all of the information that he had, and feared that Batman was extremely manipulative and had his own agenda.
Just like Superman and Batman we are all the main characters in our own story. To understand our story (or box) we also need to understand the larger story (or larger box) that our story fits into. How our own personal histories fit into the larger drama of:
- The Story of the Bible (Larger Box Part 1)
- The Story of Church History (Larger Box Part 2)
FIRST - UNDERSTAND THE LARGER STORY OF THE BIBLE
First we need to understand the entire story of the bible. At first glance this can seem impossible, but we are going to do a useful exercise by letting whoever organized the Hebrew Bible talk directly to us. Whoever organized all of the writings that would eventually become the Hebrew Bible (redactors) they left little editorial comments sprinkled throughout the text. These editorial comments act like asides where the organizers (redactors) of the bible are speaking directly to the reader.
- Aside: a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the audience is to realize that the character’s speech is unheard by the characters on stage.
- Redactor: a person who redacts; an editor or compiler of texts.
- Editorialize: make comments or express opinions rather than just report the news.
The Bible is full of moments where whoever wrote, organized, and arranged this material is turning to you the reader and is editorializing what you are reading. Making sure key points are understood, or clueing you into what is important to pay attention to.
MEANING AT THE SEAMS
So it is clear that someone (or more likely a group of someones) put together the Hebrew Bible, and they put it together deliberately and for a specific reason. They were trying to communicate something that was vitally important. Unfortunately the Christian (western) ordering of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) hides this intentional design.
Q. If you were putting together a collection of books in order to create a narrative where would be the logical places to put the important pieces, or at least summarize (editorialize) the important components.
A. The Beginnings and the Ends.
THE BIBLE AS A UNIFIED STORY THAT LEADS TO JESUS
The writers of the New Testament were hyper-aware of this, and directly and indirectly referred back to these scriptures to paint their picture of Jesus as the prophet like Moses and like Elijah who they have been waiting for and that Jesus is.
There are many great examples of this in the New Testament. This symbolism can be seen almost explicit in the transfiguration of Christ from the POV of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36, 2 Peter 1:16-18). But my absolute favorite is Luke’s depiction of the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus, when Jesus opened up their minds so that they could see everything in the laws of Moses, the Prophets, and the psalms that were written about him. (Luke 24:13-35)
25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the [f]Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning [g]with Moses and [h]with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures..
THE ENDING OF ACTS AS AN INVITATION
The book of Acts ends suddenly and abruptly. This has confused and enraged close readers of the Bible for a very, very long time. The book of Acts has a lot of conventions that bother modern readers, especially those who have learned to think of the book of Acts as a history book. But biblical scholars who have studied extra-biblical literature that were written around the time of the Book of Acts in a similar literary style have gotten additional insights that studying the Book of Acts alone.
The Book of Acts ends abruptly because it is an invitation to the reader to continue the story. The work of the Holy Spirit is far from over and acts in every generation.
This will lead us into the next episode in our POV series where we will be thinking about how church history forms the second part of our superhero origin story.
Challenge of the Week (C.O.W.)
Every journey starts with a single step. Our goal is for us to personally share our takeaways and put things into action. Do you want to be held accountable? Or hold us accountable?
Choose one or two of the challenges below.
Welcome to the Life to the Full Community!
Episode 7 C.O.W. (POV - Larger Box Pt 1 - Story of the Bible)
No challenge this week you over achievers!
In the meantime why don't you check out one of our book recommendations or deeper dives. That should keep you nice and busy for now.
Book nerds! Below are this episode's book recommendations. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, then please use these links below.
They help support the show with no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance!
In Reading Backwards, Richard B. Hays does an incredible job in introducing you to how the old testament informed the new testament, and how the new testament authors informed the old testament. It is a good read too, and we highly recommend it! This deserves a spot on the bookshelf of any serious student of the Bible.
Consider deepening your study of Acts in Tom Wright's Acts for Everyone two part series. N.T. Wright may be the most important theologian of our day. We have been slowly working our way through his entire bibliography. His writing style for both the casual reader and the scholar is very readable, and his books are great tools for shaping your understanding of the larger story of the Bible.
Joseph Cambell was a philosopher, thinker, teacher, and visionary. His collected works has influenced a host of creative minds (including George Lucas). His appeal is not in his own theory or what he invented, but his careful deconstruction of thousands of years of myths and legends. He argues that there is really only one story, the human story, and that story has been repeating itself again and again in multiple ways since the dawn of time. While this is not a theology book, I have found it particularly useful in my own studying of the Bible. If you are looking for a change and something that will make you think, then check this book out today!
Okay this section is for deeper dives. Here we will be recommending a variety of resources that we could not fit into the podcast. Some were mentioned on the podcast and some were not mentioned at all. They are videos, other podcasts, online classes, and other ramblings that Patty would not let Jimmy bring onto the podcast otherwise it would be a four hour show.
Also all promised handouts should be found here.
The Bible Project has just embarked on a project where they are trying to provide seminary level education free of charge. While there are no papers, or homework, or other components of a traditional seminary experience these classes are extremely helpful. The format is beautiful and the resources are great. I would highly recommend that EVERYONE take this class. The class that we referenced in the podcast was their first official class that they released called Intro to the Hebrew Bible.
The Ephesians class is also still out there on the internet, but you need to use the link and change the html code to cycle through the episodes. For instance here is the link for the first Ephesians Class, the second Ephesians Class, and the third Ephesians class. Solve the math problem to cycle through the entire class (well worth it!)!
Also you can just reach out to us as well if you have trouble accessing these links. The folks over at the Bible Project change things on their site a lot, so you never know when these resources may disappear forever!
This is a free course offered by Yale's Open Course initiative. Christine is an excellent teacher, and although she teaches from a literary POV, she does a great job teaching the overall story of the bible. It is an interesting companion study to do in conjunction with the Bible Project Class.