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Featured Why we should read OT narrative like general fiction

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Deacon, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I began a teaching a video course on interpreting the various OT genre in our Sunday morning Bible study.
    Two weeks ago a class member ventured ahead of the class and read the question below.
    He was quite concerned about this multiple choice question.
    What are your impressions? How would you answer the question and how could you relieve his concerns?


    Why should we read OT narrative like general fiction literature?

    a. Doing so allows the modern reader to contribute meaning to the text that the original author did not intend

    b. Some of the material in the OT is not true

    c. We will understand the text better because OT narrative contains the same literary features as general fiction literature

    d. Doing so make OT narrative more interesting
    Rob
     
  2. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy Well-Known Member
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    I would discard that material. Life is too short.
     
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  3. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Active Member

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    We shouldn't.
    General fiction is written by men, while the "Old Testament" was written by men who were directed what to write, by God.
     
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  4. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    So what is the presenter's answer to the question? I'm assuming it's C, for which you can make a case.
     
  5. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    I think it's an excellent approach, no different (or same affect) from the instructions I followed from my Bible teacher many years ago:

    'Strip away everything that you think you know about the Bible and approach it as a child that knows nothing, praying as David, "Let me behold wondrous things out of thy law". Begin on page one and read through as quickly as possible in order to get the ideal of it'.

    Exactly.
     
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  6. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    There is a sense in which we should read anything as it is written. We err if we read spiritual meaning into the biblical text. The Bible is not a mystical book. It is not meant to be beyond human comprehension. That said, it does contain mystery and certain things will be hidden from our understanding this side of eternity. While I understand the likelihood that "C" is the answer, readers need to understand that the Bible is the Word of God. In order to understand it, we need to study it, not just read it as general literature. We have to wrestle with it. We have to pray for understanding because it is the Holy Spirit that allows the Word to profit our soul.
     
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  7. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I'd answer "c".

    We sometimes assume the OT fits into our modern genre and we treat it as such. Unfortunately this can actually have the same result as reading it as if it were fiction. We have to consider how truths are communicated, to include how ANE literature and thought (depending on what OT books you are considering) differed from ours.

    Also, there is a benefit to "getting the narrative" before diving into the details. Sometimes the forrest snd not the individual trees is the intended point.
     
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  8. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Interesting anecdote...when I was in high school in Northern New Jersey, there was an elective called "The Bible as Literature". I did not become a Christian until a month prior to my graduation and I did not take the class. I always wondered what the class was like.
     
  9. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    A person reads a general fiction novel differently from a textbook or a history book.

    The author is trying to make you think. Various techniques are used to provoke thought, word choice, repetition, places, characters, all these and more are molded by the author for a purpose.

    "Narratives, stories are told in particular ways, have particular elements. And when it comes to biblical literature, they’re very well done. So we would be really advised to look at it like it’s fiction so that we’re tuned in to what writers are trying to do to us."
    Michael S. Heiser, BI101 Introducing Biblical Interpretation: Contexts and Resources, Revised Edition., Logos Mobile Education (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).

    So, as some guessed, the answer to the question...

    Why should we read OT narrative like general fiction literature?


    a. Doing so allows the modern reader to contribute meaning to the text that the original author did not intend

    b. Some of the material in the OT is not true

    c. We will understand the text better because OT narrative contains the same literary features as general fiction literature

    d. Doing so make OT narrative more interesting
    We should read bible narratives as we read general fiction novels; it is a proper way to read the genera and not profane.

    Rob
     
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  10. Mikey

    Mikey Active Member

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    Guessing it is C.

    Can you explain why it is C. ?

    Thanks
     
  11. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy Well-Known Member
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    Just asking for a friend--how do you distinguish yourself from Julius Wellhausen?
     
  12. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    You make me think of "New Journalism," and some of it's major producers. The way Tom Wolfe and others reported their material from inside the narrative.
     
  13. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    Well, I see no mention in his post of a JEDP breakdown, so there's that.
     
  14. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy Well-Known Member
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    Hmm. That probably has something to do with Julius Wellhausen but I guess that I don't know what. Are you an English major?
     
  15. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    Do you just throw the name Wellhausen out there like a profanity?

    I'm no fan of Wellhausen or his work, but literary criticism isn't on par with a documentary hypothesis, so I don't see your point of slinging Wellhausen's name around.

    Literary criticism is used around here daily. Usually when someone says something along the lines of "it's an epistle, so it was writen to believers, and must be interpreted thusly..."
     
  16. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy Well-Known Member
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    Wow, who said Wellhausen is a profanity? I just asked for a friend if your method was the same as Wellhausen's? Just asking. Are you an English major?
     
  17. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    I had assumed that your opinions on Wellhausen were rather negative. If you're a fan of his, then my point fails. Regardless, outside of liberal theology, asking someone in evangelical circles if their method is the same as Wellhausen's is akin to asking a politician if their method is the same as Hitler's.

    As for education, I spent 5 semesters majoring in English. Switched to history, though.
     
  18. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    I suppose one could read the OT as if its fiction if they want. If I were talking to someone who had done that and they were trying to explain it to me their view would then be suspect at best. I think it is a bad solution looking for a problem. How about read the OT for what it is, a writing that reveals God's heart written to His special creation that they may know Him, and understand all the language genre's along the way. If we divorce God from the method in which we approach the scriptures then we risk all sorts of ungodly interpretations. It is a spiritual books, let's be filed with the Spirit, be sensitive to the Spirit, and be prayerful.
     
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  19. MB

    MB Well-Known Member

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    Doing so would mean you would have to stop believing it. Sounds Satanic to me.
    MB
     
  20. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    I do not read the OT as if it were fictional literature, but rather as "living parables." The accounts are to be understood as historical, but for the purpose of teaching spiritual truth. This approach employs the elements of critical thinking (i.e. what is His point, what should I take away and apply) without suggesting the OT be considered "general fiction."
     
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