Thursday, December 15, 2005

Narrative Sub-structure

Mike Bird links to this wonderful quote from Larry Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ:

[T]he canonical Gospels emphasize an explicit, larger "narrative world" or the story line into which they place their stories of Jesus. This narrative horizon extends both backward to include the story line of the Scriptures of Israel (Tanach/Old Testament) and forward chronologically to the eschatological triumph of God's purposes ... If the biblical sweep of the horizon "backward" in time gives the meaning-context of Jesus, the eschatological sweep of the horizon "forward" holds out the hope in which following Jesus is to be ventured, and the divine purpose that Jesus serves.

I find this to be an engaging quote and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Richard Hays work on the narrative sub-structure of the gospels. Last time he was in NZ he delivered a series of lectures looking at how the gospels read the Hebrew scriptures and how the Hebrew scriptures help us to read the gospels. It was a fantastic series and taught me a lot about the pro's and cons of intertextuality and narrative sub-structure.

I'll never forget his three fascinating questions:
  • How does the evangelist carry forward the story of Israel?
  • How does evangelist operate as an interpreter of scripture?
  • How does the evangelist envision Jesus in the community of the Gospels?

Regardless of what we make of the third question, given Bauckham's critique, the gist of the question stands: How did the evangelist envision the share and direction that his gospel might give to various communities scattered throughout the Roman empire?

Hays left us with a passing jab at "the seminar" when he noted that the Jesus of the apocryphal gospels comes with various 'new' revelations and esoteric knowledge. The Jesus of the canonical gospels comes with insight from Israel's scriptures. Not ground-breaking, but it made this student think and re-think a few things...

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