Everyone loves a good story, right? And they’re always easy to understand, too… right? Or maybe not so much.
When we move into New Testament Narrative as a genre (basically consisting of the Gospels and Acts) we move into some of the most familiar and most beloved portions of Scripture.
But we must not mistake ‘familiar’ and ‘beloved’ with ‘rightly understood.’
The Gospels & Acts
New Testament Narrative may best be described as ‘Theological History’ or perhaps ‘Historical Theology.’ The term Gospel simply refers to the proclamation of good news and was typically associated with things like military conquest or the birth of a son.
While each Gospel-writer has his own purpose for writing, and therefore his own themes, we need to be familiar with big themes of the Gospels & Acts (kingdom, authority, end of the age, revelation of God, etc.). In particular, we want to see how each is deliberately trying to portray Jesus as the fulfilment of all humanity’s needs and all the OT’s expectations.
Forms of Writing in the Gospels
Parables: A parable is a short narrative that demands a response from the hearer. They are sheep-discerners (Mark 4.10-12). Some hints for parables:
- Watch for contextual indicators which teach why parables are told (Lk 18.1; Lk 15.1-3; Lk 10.26-29)
- Look for a single major point (with perhaps some secondary points), rather than allegorizing or universalizing
- In some sense, these are proverbs in narrative form, contrasting how different people live before God (wise & foolish builders, pharisees/Levites & Samaritans, rich man & Lazarus, Pharisee & tax collector).
- Parables are supposed to make you pensive; don’t press on too quickly