There are two basic ways to travel.

  • At speed, intent on the destination. We could call this the “flypast” approach. This is the necessity of fast – but in flying over, you at least get a sense of the whole (with perhaps a spot of the odd big landmark).
  • At leisure, relishing the sights, sounds and wonders of journey itself. We could call this the “country lanes” approach. This is the joy of slow.

Well, in studying the scriptures, we need to do both. My hunch as that, actually, many do neither.

Last term in our fellowship groups we did the former – we did the life of Samuel, gallopping through various chapters of 1 & 2 Samuel at considerable speed through the term.

This term, we’ve been working through just 3 chapters in Luke (though some might think that is still quite big). I did an overview of the book at the start of the term (audio of talk here, pdf of handout here). And because I have table-mania, I tried to do an overview of the 3 chapters in one table, as a way of exposing the intricacies of Luke’s brilliant narrative construction. Reading the chapters through is like being faced with a stunning medieval tapestry; but turn it over and you see all the threads of different colours and themes, chaotic at first sight, but all in their place and holding the whole together. So here’s the table:

Each of the 4 gospel writers is a genius of narrative construction, and so I’m convinced that such an approach is a useful one when preparing for a talks or studies series.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. If you like charts you might like a Grove booklet I edited a few years ago called ‘Refreshing Bible Study’ which has a number of approaches like this suggested.

    This kind of narrative analysis is most powerful looking at John–do you know Mark Stibbe’s commentary?

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