An interesting perspective on the Biblical narrative

As many of you will know, I've long been a supporter of the position that the Bible is not a historical or scientific text, and that treating it as such does it a disservice. That there's a fundamental difference between "truth" and "fact."

Well, I've been doing some more reading in "Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire." I still have a hard time following it, because it uses a lot of theology "lingo" like "praxis" and "escotology" so that I'm always asking Wendy what they mean. But part of the reading I did tonight sort of "jumped out" at me. They broke the Biblican narrative down into a six act play, with each act representing a different aspect of the narrative. And, according to this analysis, we are right now in the middle of Act V.

It really gives a different perspective, to see yourself as a part of that story, rather than outside of it. What made it even more compelling was the nature of the "play." The "author" hasn't handed us a script for the remainder of the play - this is improv!

Now, before anybody goes crazy on me, this isn't saying that God is "making it up as he goes along." That's not what improv is about. Good improv can often have a specific end-goal in mind, and is always in keeping with what has already happened. It's just the methods of getting from where we are now to that known end-state that are fluid.

I like that metaphor. Unfortunately, I've never considered myself to be very good at improv. It scares me. As does being a part of this story.



This six act piece sounds familiar ... I think it's what they presented at the Emergent Convention in Nashville this May. I liked it ... way out of the box for most there ... talk to Richard about it ... he was there with me.

There's a certain "responsibility" that comes with the freedom of realizing the final acts are still being written.

-- Wendy

The authors point out that they "lifted" this approach from another source (originally 5 acts, rather than 6). So perhaps you have heard it beforeFrom the authors' footnote on this technique:

N. T. Wright first developed this approach to biblical authority in "How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?" Vox Evangelica 21 (1991), and employed it further in The New Testament and the People of God (London: SPCK/Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), pp 139-43. Followig J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh, Truth is Stranger Than it Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1995), chap 8, we modify Wright's five-act model into six acts. Recognizing the we compromise the Shakespearean overtones in so doing, we think it is theologically necessary to create a little more discontinuity between the history of the church and the sonsummation of all things in the second coming. Hence our distinction between act 5 and act 6 below. Beyond this, our position is essentially the same as Wright's. See also Brian J. Walsh, "Reimaging Biblical Authority," Christian Scholar's Review 26, no 2 (Winter 1996): 206-20

Sounds as if you are leaving some of your Calvinist roots. Isn't this moving you nearer to a dispensationalist viewpoint?

I've never been a very good Calvinist. That whole predestination thing never sat well with me. And I don't really know what's meant by the term "dispensationalist" so I can't speak to that.

I'm reading Colossians Remixed at the moment also, and am at nearly the same point. N.T. Wright's 5-act analogy is indeed helpful, as are his other writings. You may wish to visit if interested. One of my favourite articles that can be accessed there is a transcription of a lecture called 'How Can The Bible Be Authoritative?' Very helpful stuff.

I'm not sure what rhaney was saying, but I thought I'd note that instead of a step toward dispensationalism, N.T. Wright's 5-act analogy is more a step toward reclaiming the Bible as a narrative.

May God bless your learning.


Thanks for the comments, Dale.

And just ignore rhaney. He and I are good friends, though we do differ on theological issues. He just likes to tease me once in a while.