Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the biblical text. Hermeneutics is the process of understanding literary texts, specifically in reference to applying the message and overall intent of the author. When it comes to Scripture, the process of proper hermeneutics is vitally important. Furthermore, recognizing the manner by which God reveals His truth to His people through the medium of narrative writing will help us learn to grasp how the redemptive narrative of Scriptures should impact everyday life.
The typical approach of hermeneutics is to analyze issues such as genre, history, theology, and word meanings. Those are certainly valuable and necessary pieces to understanding the Bible and its message. With that said, I wonder if we have taken the time to step back and look at narrative, noting the overall flow of the story and how that flow weaves its way through the text and as a result into our lives? Gene Fant in his book God as Author: A Biblical Approach to Narrative, walks the reader through the process of looking at the overall storyline of Scripture, with the goal of examining the genre of literary narrative.
Anyone who may is fearful that Fant is suggesting that Scripture is nothing more than good stories with only moral application can set aside those fears because this is not Fant’s approach. Fant rightly notes concerning literary narrative (i.e. stories) that “stories communicate truth in ways that are unparalleled, in part because stories are “sticky”: we remember them in ways that we do not retain other forms of communication. This quality explains why narratives have influenced human thought so directly for millennia.”
In fact, we have forgotten, the world of the Bible was an oral culture. Additionally, God commanded His people to talk about these things with their children at all times. What were “these things”? They are the commands of God, whereby He outlined what it means to love Him and others. “These things” also included relaying biblical truths to each subsequent generation through sharing the stories of what God has done, is doing, and has promised to do for His people. That process takes place through literary narrative, the relaying of stories that are intended to stick and implant themselves firmly in one’s memory in order for those events to be told again and again without any important detail being left out.
If there was one statement by Fant I appreciated most in this book it was this:
“Readers tend to fracture the biblical story in ways that disconnect each narrative unit from the remainder of the entire Story. There are many stories contained in the Bible, but there is only one primary Story told by the Bible: that of God’s glory as revealed in His justice and loving-kindness towards His creation. Each of the stories it contains contributes to our understanding of the overarching redemptive Story.”
This necessary focus on the scarlet thread of redemption story weaves its way from Genesis to Revelation. Fant reminds the readers through his book that as we examine literary narrative in Scripture, we have to constantly pay attention to the many ways God keeps bringing the individual stories back to the story of redemption. If we stray from that constant thread, the thread begins to unwind and the tapestry of Scripture becomes opaque rather than what God intended, a beautiful picture of His redemptive purposes towards His people.
The literary narrative is something we need to pay attention to the literary narrative in order better understand Scripture. Fant does an excellent job of examining how God tells His story and how we can not only recognize that story of redemption but more importantly, ways in which we can apply the stories of Scripture to our lives based on a proper understanding of how the individual stories connect to the whole. In turn, we can read and write them from a redemptive perspective.
This is a very helpful and informative book. I appreciated Fant’s focus on the importance of the story of redemption and how we can better understand how Scripture declares that story in all its various components. I recommend this book and believe it will help readers to find ways to connect redemptive truth to our lives.
I received this book for free from B&H Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”