Monday, December 15, 2008

Biblical Narratives

The following material is based on the books:
1. Carl B. Gibbs Principles of Biblical Interpretation
2. Gordon D. Fee, Douglas Stuart How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

The principles of interpretation of biblical narratives:
1. Take a narrative as a fact.
2. Do not base a doctrine on a historical fact. Narratives usually do not teach doctrines, but illustrate doctrines given as statements in other texts.
3. Find the main topic of the narrative.
4. Narratives tell about the events that happened, not what should have happened and not what will happen every time.
5. There is a difference between descriptions (stories) and prescriptions (instructions). Consider the characters' actions according to the general moral doctrines of the Bible. Pay attention how the story influences your attitude to the character or the event. If God approves some of a person's actions, it does not mean that He approves all his or her actions. What people are doing is not always a good pattern for us. Most characters are not perfect, and their actions are not perfect too.
6. Silence does not mean agreement. We are not always told whether the events that took place were good or bad. We are expected to consider that according to the clear prescriptions of the Bible.
7. Distinguish eternal God's commandments (for all the generations of believers) from His temporary commandments (only for one person or group of people).
8. Narratives often do not give all the details. What there is in the narrative is what the author considered important.
9. Define the size of the story: where it begins and where it ends. Usually, a story has three stages: 1) the character encounters a problem; 2) his or her attitude to the problem; 3) he/she overcomes the problem or is defeated by the problem. In many-plot narratives, it is easier to find a change of a plot by a change of environment.
10. Consider the story in the context of the whole book of the Bible. A story should be interpreted in the context of the book.
11. Eventually, God is the main character of all the biblical narratives. Search for indications of God's actions in the story even if God is not clearly mentioned in it. Consider what truth about God the story reveals. Consider the story in the context of the history of salvation. Search for God and His purpose in every biblical story.
12. Narratives are not expected to answer all our doctrinal questions. They have specific goals and deal with certain matters. Other matters are spoken about in another place. Narratives may teach something directly or indirectly.

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