My Quick Narrative Suggestions for a Friend

If you’re running out of time and need the best book I can recommend quickly for your purposes it would be Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons.  Don’t let the title or the marketing fool you.  While it is accessible the way business reading typically is, it gets at the deep questions quickly and has an accessible way of asking people to think deeply.  Really, really good for lay audiences.

If you need something that’s more explicitly faith-based.  Barbara Wendland and Lary W. Easterling have an alban publication entitled Spiritual Family Trees: Finding Your Faith Community’s Roots.  Particularly if your audience is an older crowd, this might be helpful.

A little more complex book that’s somewhat in line here would be The Art of Theological Reflection by Patricia O’Connell Killen and John DeBeer.  It is helpful both for biblical narrative thinking and also personal narrative thinking.

Finally, if you’re going in the more biblical route you want to think about the two ways “narrative” gets used in biblical and theological studies.  The Bible as narrative and narrative reading of particular biblical texts.   First, Narrative the way the “Yale School” typically mean that is this:  scripture is as a whole a narrative.  The most accessible treatment of this way of thinking is probably Gene Boring’s “Five-Act Drama of Scripture” found in The People’s New Testament Commentary, pp. 597-598 (Boring and Craddock) or in Boring’s, Disciples and the Bible there a new five finger exercise, p. 441ff. 

For reading particular texts as narrative, I find Mark Powell’s What is Narrative Criticism to be the most helpful.  Also Sondra Schnieders’s The Revelatory Text and Written that You Might Believe.

When I tried tell Boring that I thought there was a difference between seeing the whole of scripture as narrative versus reading individual stories in scripture from a narrative perspective, he told me that was a stupid dichotomy and that they were all basically the same.  Personally, I have found the reading of particular biblical texts as narratives far more enlightening than thinking of the whole as scripture as narrative.  Narrative functions as an exegetical tool better than it works as a hermeneutic tool for me.  I say frequently to folks, “Don’t just pay attention to what story is told but how the story is told.”  Nothing does that more clearly for me than the telling of the Jairus story in Mark.  Four times in that story Jairus’ is referenced.  Every time he is mentioned Mark refers to him as the leader of the synagogue.  Every time–four times!  Except the very last time he is mentioned.  Just as Jesus is going in to raise Jairus’s daughter Mark says, “And they laughed at him.  Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother . . . ”  (Mark 5:40).  As one who is both the leader of a synagogue and the father of three children, that is narrative reading that becomes very personal for me. 

Narrative Annotated Bibliography

                                                           Annotated Bibliography
Ayo, Nicholas. The Creed as Symbol. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989.
Nicholas Ayo begins with the premise that to speak of theology is to speak of God at work in our lives. Working both with a sense of narrative theology–specifically that the Creed presents a series of narratives–and with an understanding of the metaphoric nature of Christian doctrine, he reflects upon the articles of faith in the Apostle’s Creed. 
Berndt, Brooks. “The Politics of Narrative.” Homiletic 29.2 (2004): 1-11.
Berndt argues against Lischer’s criticism of story as being incapable of dealing with socio-political messages.  He gives an in-depth analysis of a sermon-speech by Aristide that compares the situation in Haiti with Leviticus.     
Boomershine, Thomas E. Story Journey:  An Invitation to the Gospel as Storytelling. Nashville: Abingdon, 1988.
                       
Boomershine provides a process for learning a story.  He begins by instructing tellers to attend to the sound of the story.  (NOTE: I don’t really understand what he’s getting at here).  He moves from there to instructing tellers to focus on part of the story.  What I would call “scenes” he describes as “chunks” or “blocks.”  He emphasizes the importance of “thinking” the story rather than mindlessly regurgitating the story.  Each chapter has the same building block components–(1) the story; (2) Learning the story (attention to verbal threads); (3) Listening to the Story (something of the more familiar exegesis; (4) Connections–from the ancient text to contemporary experience. 
Boring, M. Eugene. 1 Peter. Abingdon Commentary Series. Nashville: Abingdon, 1999.
In an excursus toward the beginning of the book boring describes the narrative world of the Epistle.  He does this by identifying explicit or implied narrative events and placing them in chronological order. 
—. Disciples and the Bible : A History of Disciples Biblical Interpretation in North America : Where We’ve Been– Where We Are– Where Do We Go from Here?St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 1997.
The book offers a history of biblical interpretation in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as well as in the Christian Church (Churches of Christ) and the Churches of Christ.  When making recommendations for the future he offers the suggestion of learning a new five finger exercise that summarizes the biblical narrative in five dramatic acts–creation, covenant, Christ, church, and consummation.
Bruner, Jerome. “Culture, Mind, and Education.” The Culture of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996. 1-43.
Bruner suggests a culturist approach to knowledge that is contrasted with a computationalist approach.  Where the computationalist root knowledge in facts, the culturist root understanding in what resembles text interpretation. 
—. “The Narrative Construction of Reality.” Critical Inquiry 18.1 (1991): 1-21.
Bruner outline ten narrative features that are relevant to the examination of narrative constructions of reality (1) “Narrative diachronicity” (p. 6); (2) “Partciularity” (p. 6); (3) “Intentional state entailment” (p. 7); (4) “ Hermeneutic composability” (p. 7); (5) “Canonicity and breach” (p. 11); (6) “Referentiality” (p. 13); (7) “Genericness” (p. 14); (8) “Normativeness” (p. 15); (9) “Context sensitivity and negotiability” (p. 16); (10) “Narrative accrual” (p. 18).  
Campbell, Charles L. “A Not-So Distant Mirror: Nineteenth Century Popular Fiction and Pulpit Storytelling.” Theology Today 51.1 (1995): 574-82.
Campbell traces the historic development of storytelling in the pulpit from the novelists’ critique of 19th century, abstract, deductive preaching.  He recognizes the validity of the concern while calling for a return to our incorporation of theological reflection.  Campbell distinguishes between theological explanation/relfelction and story-telling.  He does not consider the possibility that stories themselves can be constructed as to include theological reflection.
—. The Word before the Powers. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002.
In The Word Before the Powers, Charles Campbell envisions a role for preaching within the pastoral work of forming the community of the church.  The particular ethic Campbell advocates involves commitment to non-violence.  For Campbell, the powers of the world transcend mere material or social-psychological impulses.  They are spiritual powers that use various strategies like intimidation and surveillance to illicit compliance from citizens.  The mythic foundation of our violent culture commits to a cosmology wherein violence brings order from chaos.  Biblical narrative theology posits a radically different cosmology.  God created through word and not through violence.  Jesus entered the world and confronted the powers.  He defeated them as is embody in the narratives of exorcism.  He rewrote the foundational narrative through his teaching ministry.  But the ultimate defeat of the powers of the violent culture came with the absorbtion of the violence on the cross and its ultimate refutation through resurrection.  He writes, “Whereas the crucifixion exposes the lies and pretensions of the powers, the resurrection deals with their ultimate sanction and threat: death” (p. 65).  Christ’s church is formed around the works and words, death and resurrection of Jesus and therefore carries forward into each successive generation the work of overcoming violence.  To that end, preaching is the means which Christ used and the means entrusted to the church.  Preaching cannot merely advocate for non-violence as a project; preaching must visualize a different world.
Craddock, Fred B. As One without Authority. Rev. and with new sermons. ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2001.
Craddock presents an inductive method of preaching that delays the conclusion for the end of the sermon.  The model presented delays the thesis and narrates the preachers encounter with the text inviting the congregation to experience the text alongside the preacher.  It is a less authoritative stance because it does not dictate the conclusion to the congregation.
—. Overhearing the Gospel. [Lyman Beecher Lectures ; 1978]. Nashville: Abingdon, 1978.
Working from insights of Kierkegaard, Craddock presents an occasional model of preaching that has a fictitious, parabolic quality. 
—. Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985.
This is Craddock’s standard preaching textbook and deals with exegesis, hermeneutics, form, style and delivery. 
—-.”The New Homiletic for Latecomers.” Preaching Mark’s Unsettling Messiah. Eds. David Fleer and Dave Bland. St. Louis: Chalice, 2006. 14-29.
Craddock describes his professional journey to a style of preaching that preaches in the manner of the scripture.  Rather than conforming Mark, for instance, to an epistolary approach to preaching, he argues that the sermon ought to match the style of the text from which the sermon is drawn.  He relates this to his impression of postmodern approaches.
Cragan, John F., and Donald C.  Shields. Symbolic Theories in Applied Communication Research: Bormann, Burke and Fisher. Cresskill New, Jersey & Annandale, Virginia.: Hampton Press,  & SCA, 1995.
Cragan and Shields utilize take related but distinct rhetorical-critical theories of Fantasy-Theme (Bormann), Pentad (Burke) and Narrative (Fisher) and craft applied communicating research methods from them. 
Crites, Stephen. “The Narrative Quality of Experience.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 39 (1971): 292-311.
Crites argues for a temporal structuring of human experience.  He reflects heavily on Augustine’s notions of memory and the way that narrative makes past and future realities in the present through narrative imagination. 
Dewey, Joanna. “Oral Methods of Structuring Narrative in Mark.” Intersections: Post-Critical Studies in Preaching. Ed. Richard L. Eslinger. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. 23-41.
Following Ong, Dewey emphasizes the orality of the text, Mark, and links these oral patterns to homiletic suggestions.  She asks preachers to recapture the orality of the biblical text.  She recognizes the importance of exegetical work while simultaneously admitting that every reading is a distortion.  Rather than seek an endless line of safeguards against subjectivity she suggests, “To tell or hear a story is always to use our imaginations.  Let us recognize that and use our imaginations intentionally, creatively and responsibly” (p. 39).  
Davis, Ellen F. “Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church.” The Art of Reading Scripture. Eds. Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 9-26.
While dismissing the importance of historical-critical readings of the text, Davis argues that reading and teaching scripture from the central, organized, theological expressions of the church affirms the work of God in the church. 
Eslinger, Richard L. “Narrative and Imagery.” Intersections: Post-Critical Studies in Preaching. Ed. Richard L. Eslinger. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. 65-87.
Eslinger argues for an expanded homiletic that includes both narrative and imagery.  The argument is extended in his book, Eslinger, Richard L. Narrative and Imagination. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1995.
Fackre, Gabriel J. The Nature of Revelation. 2003.
Fackre presents the beginning of his systematic theology from a narrative perspective.  He views the whole of scripture as a coherent narrative and assesses the issues of revelation in accordance with this framework.
—. Word in Deed : Theological Themes in Evangelism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.
Word in Deed offers an accessible theology for evangelism.  The third chapter “Authorization” is a very simple explanation of story theology. 
Fisher, Walter R. Human Communication as Narration : Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action. Studies in Rhetoric/Communication. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.
Human Communication as Narration is the seminal work on Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm.  It offers a rhetorical critical methodology that analyzes rhetoric in terms of narrative fidelity (whether a rhetorical appeal rings true with the audiences own narrative) and narrative coherence (whether the rhetorical appeal seems plausible, believable and internally consistent).
—. “Narration, Knowledge and the Possibility of Wisdom.” Rethinking Knowlege:  Reflections across the Disciplines. Eds. R. F. Goodman and W. R. Fisher. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. 169-94.
Fisher expanded on his Narrative Paradigm moving it beyond the field of rhetorical criticism and into the area of epistemology.  He argues that narrative is a basic way of knowing. 
—. “Narrative as Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Knowledge.” Communication Monographs 51.1 (1984): 1-22.
This journal article was Fisher’s initial effort at arguing for a narrative paradigm for rhetoric.  He suggests that in the case of moral decision-making, experts play a different role than that of absolute authorities.  In contrast to intra-disciplinary audiences who may share epistemological assumptions and who work from a base of basic knowledge, public audiences do not so much assess the logical consistency of moral argumentation (as say a trained ethicist might) rather they intuit their judgments on the basis of narrative.
Frei, Hans W. The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative; a Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics. New Haven,: Yale University Press, 1974.
Eclipse is the groundbreaking book that began people thinking about the whole of the narrative.  Where Enlightenment exegetical methods had dissecting scripture into as many component parts as possible, the larger meaning had been lost.  Frei called for a renewed assessment of the whole of scripture. 
Green, Joel. “Narrating the Gospel in 1 and 2 Peter.” Interpretation 60.3 (2006): 262-77.
Joel Green constructs the narrative emplotment of 1 and 2 Peter.  From this perspective, narrative consists of understanding a books view of events in time both remembered and anticipated time.  Narrative analysis, then, consists of identifying the major events (my term not his) that are referenced in a particular book and constructing their logical sequence.  He gives examples of both 2 Peter’s narrative and 1 Peter’s narrative.  Once each event is identified, Green can analyze each section.  He correlates the two letters despite all the differences through this narrative approach.
Hays, Richard. The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11. The Biblical Resource Series. Eds. Astrid B. Beck and David Noel Freedman. Second Edition ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
Hays utilizes a narrative analysis drawn from A. J. Greimas’ work on narrative structures.  This process consists of identifying three types of sequences in a narrative.  Any narrative has an “initial” and “final” sequence and has one or more “topical sequences”.  A sequence contains “narrative syntagms.”  “there is the ‘contract syntagm’ (in which the protagonist is charged with a task to perform), the ‘disjunction/conjunction syntagm’ (in which the protagonist sets out on the quest to carry out the ‘contract’), and the ‘performance syntam’ (in which the protagonist carries out or fails to carry out the task).  These syntagms logically must occur in the order described here, although a given text may not necessarily manifest them in this order” (p. 84-85). These syntagms are further subdivided on the basis of functions.  Hays uses this approach to narrative analysis to argue for a particular interpretation of a contention Pauline theological issue.  Specifically whether pisteos Iesou Christou ought to be translated “faith in Jesus Christ” or “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:22).  He argues that narrative exegetical analysis leads to the translation of the term in the latter sense in contradistinction from the typical Protestant emphasis on human faith in Christ.
Greenhaw, David M. “As One with Authority:  Rehabilitating Concepts for Preaching.” Intersections:  Post-Critical Studies in Preaching. Ed. Richard L. Eslinger. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. 105-22.
Greenshaw argues that the season for ambiguous and delayed conclusion is over.  The time has come for pastors to accept the authority they have and preach in a manner consistent with that authority. 
Jensen, Richard A. Preaching Luke’s Gospel : A Narrative Approach. Lima, Ohio: CSS Pub., 1997.
—. Preaching Mark’s Gospel : A Narrative Approach. Lima, Ohio: CSS Pub., 1996.
—. Preaching Matthew’s Gospel : A Narrative Approach. Lima, Ohio: CSS Pub., 1998.
—. Telling the Story : Variety and Imagination in Preaching. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1980.
Jensen argues for the power of story to offer polyvalent conclusions rather than directing our attention to a single point.  He makes some very basic suggestions concerning practice.  
—. Thinking in Story : Preaching in a Post-Literate Age. Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Pub., 1993.
Kirkwood, William G. “Narrative and the Rhetoric of Possibility.” Communication Monographs 59.1 (1992): 30-47.
Kirkwood argues that stories are not all created equal.  One of the evaluative criteria to use in assessing the value of a story is its capacity to reveal possibilities for the hearers own life and problem-solving.
Lester, Andrew D. Hope in Pastoral Counseling. Louisville: Westeminster John Knox, 1995.
Lester applies the concepts of narrative, particular Crites, to pastoral care situations.  In particular he discusses the make up identity as a series of overlapping narratives. 
Linbeck, George A. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984.
George Linbeck.  Linbeck proposes the use of the “cultural-linguistic” model of theology.  The cultural-linguistic model posits that human religious experience is not so much reflected in theological language but rather it is generated by the linguistic system sustained with a religious system
Lischer, Richard. “The Limits of Story.” Interpretation 38.1 (1984): 26-38.
Lischer is critical of narrative preaching.  He observes that not all biblical texts are narrative and should not be forced into a story form. He is concerned that narrative preaching fosters too much concern on aesthetics at the expense of pursuing truth.  He further worries that narrative does not provide a suitable genre for the assessment of doctrine and ethical issues. 
David J. Lose, Narrative and Proclamation in Postliberal Homiletics, Homiletics, 23 (1) Sum 1998, 1-14
Lowry, Eugene L. The Homiletical Plot : The Sermon as Narrative Art Form. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1980.
Lowry presents a discussion of homiletic form that does not tell a story so much as presents the material in a narrative manner with conflict, suspense, and delayed resolution.
Malbon, Elizabeth Sruthers. “Narrative Criticism:  How Does the Story Mean?” Mark and Method. Eds. Janice Capel Anderson and Stephen D. Moore. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992. 23-49.
Mathewson, Steven D. “Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives.” Bibliotheca sacra 154 (197): 410-35.
Mathewson offers both hermeneutic and homiletic guidelines.  The hermeneutic guidelines refer to interpretive techniques that examine particular narratives–examination of repetition, character development and other literary constructs.  The homiletic guidelines make suggestions that incorporate narrative elements into the preaching.  Ultimately, however, Mathewson advises that sermons reveal propositionally stated truth using the insights and images from narrative analysis.
McClure, John S. “Narrative and Preaching: Sorting It All Out.” Journal for Preachers15.1 (1991): 24-29.
McClure categorizes narrative preaching into four categories.  Narrative hermeneutics looks at scripture using the tools and insights of narrative criticism.  Narrative semantics is a sermon from utilizing narrative methods (story sermons and narrative sermons).  Narrative enculturation incorporates human culture and human experience into the sermon through narrative reflection.  Narrative world view is an epistemological and reflective approach understood through narrative assessments. 
—. Other-Wise Preaching: A Postmodern Ethic for Homiletics. St. Louis: Chalice, 2001.
McClure is critical of the approach taken by many preachers that isolates them from the lived experience of the people to whom they are trying to preach.  The traditional approaches tend to privilege the traditions of the church and the powers that be within the church, the conclusions of the religious academy, and the preacher’s own personal experiences which are often immersed in the religious setting of ecclesial life.  McClure advocates an approach to preaching that listens carefully to the “other.” 
Medhurst, Martin J. “Rhetorical Dimensions in Biblical Criticism:  Beyond Style and Genre.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 77 (1991   .): 214-50.
Medhurst provides an assessment of approaches to rhetoric and scripture.  He discusses those who look at scripture in light of contemporary rhetoric to those who examine rhetoric at syntactical and structural levels. 
Calvin Miller, The Sermon Maker: Tales of a Transformed Preacher, Zondervan 2002. 
Mulder, David P. Narrative Preaching:  Stories from the Pulpit. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995.
Mulder offers his own approach to narrative preaching that involves primarily preaching with heavy use of story.  Mulder writes from a more conservative theological perspective.  
Patrick, Dale, and Allen Scult. Rhetoric and Biblical Interpretation. Sheffield: Almond Press, 1990.
Utilizing the insights of narrative rhetoricians, Patrick and Scult illustrate how narratives argue for demonstrations of truth and propose directions for action.
Petersen, Norman R. Rediscovering Paul: Philemon and the Sociology of Paul’s Narrative World. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
In identifying the “referential series,” Petersen identifies specific actions or events which are referred to or implied in the letter to Philemon.  His interpretation places these events within their logical chronological order. .  Petersen also addresses the poetic series.  This consists of placing the implied events which occur before the writing of the letter in their chronological order, the events referred to within the letter in the order of appearance within the letter and the events taken place in the future (relative of the writing of the letter in the present tense) in the last section.  Petersen sees the construction of the poetic order necessary critical move in uncovering motive.  Boring uses the term “plotted sequence” and includes specific chapter and verse or written order and makes less ambitious claims as to its importance.  Petersen’s notion of poetic sequence seems problematic.  It is not axiomatic that events which are written in before/after sequence necessarily define an action and motivation.
           
Placher, William C. Narratives of a Vulnerable God : Christ, Theology, and Scripture. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.
Placher discusses the passion of Christ from a narrative (Yale) theological perspective. 
Powell, Mark Allan. What Is Narrative Criticism? Guides to Biblical Scholarship. New Testament Series. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.
Powell provides a guide for conducting narrative exegesis on biblical texts.  He primarily focuses on texts that are explicitly narrative like the gospels and offers only a glancing look at works that deal with narrative substructures in epistolary writings. 
Rhoads, David M., and Donald Michie. Mark as Story : An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.
Ricoeur, Paul, and Mark I. Wallace. Figuring the Sacred : Religion, Narrative, and Imagination. Trans. David Pellauer. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
Figuring the Sacred contains several essays by Ricouer and a helpful introduction by Wallace.  Many of the works relate to narrative and imagery. 
Robinson, Wayne Bradley, ed. Journeys toward Narrative Preaching. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1990.
The essays collected in this book contain the way in which people have come to use narrative preaching and suggestions they offer about the practice. 
Sanders, James A. Canon and Community:  A Guide to Canonical Criticism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.
Sanders argues that we not only have canonized text but also a canonized hermeneutic.  The bible itself contains places where earlier passages of scripture have been utilized.  By examining the way the scripture writers utilized the texts they were quoting reveals a hermeneutic.  This hermeneutic is itself a part of the canon and can be instructive for us. In looking at the canonical hermeneutic, Sanders sees five tendencies at work within the canon generally (Sanders consistently warns against absolutizing these tendencies).  He explains that the bible tends to monotheize earlier precursors.  The attempts to monotheize in a polytheistic context is precisely what Sanders asserts should be paradigmatic for believers today above the concrete prescriptions developed.  Second, “The Bible betrays a broad theocentric hermeneutic” (p. 52).  In spite of humanistic and psychologized readings of texts, the Bible persists in being a story essentially of God’s acts.  Or in Sanders language scripture provides a grammar of God’s being (nouns) and God’s doing (verbs).  Third, the Bible emphasize God’s grace working through sinful humanity.  This involves both God’s redemptive role as traditionally understood in Protestant soteriology and it also involves God’s elective role to use people despite their evil natures. [I think here Sanders provides some critique, though perhaps unwittingly, of the church’s emphasis on sanctification.  Churches tend to emphasize that God uses us as we yield ourselves to God.  While this is certainly true and born out in biblical witness, the converse is also true.  God achieves God’s plans in spite of human stubbornness and disobedience.].  Fourth, the Bible tends to affirm God’s preferential treatment for those the dominant structures have mistreated.  And finally, he constructs a fourfold process by which the “wisdom of others was adapted and resignified” (p. 56).  This fourfold process meant that the biblical writers, “depolytheized what they learned from others, monotheized it, Yahwized it, and then Israelized it” (p. 56).  Though, he points out that different texts will betray varying degrees of these tendencies.
—. From Sacred Story to Sacred Text : Canon as Paradigm. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.
Sacred Story to Sacred Text contains several essays on the theme of biblical exegesis, hermeneutics and the role of story. 
—. God Has a Story Too. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1979.
God Has a Story Too provides an introduction and conclusion that offer instructions concerning the interpretation of scripture.  He provides an explanation of scripture’s adaptability and stability and the implications of these elements for the church and for the preacher.  The book contains several sermons and their contexts which reveal Sanders application of these principles. 
—. “Torah and Paul.” From Sacred Story to Sacred Text : Canon as Paradigm. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987. 106-23.
Torah which the Greek translates nomos contains both halachah and haggadah–both legal code and more general religious teaching.  The translation of nomos in the New Testament as “law” has shifted our understanding away from the more basic concept.  Sanders writes, “Whether in the Bible or in Judaism, Toarah was clearly viewed as a mixture of two equally essential elements: story and stipulation, haggadah and halachah, mythos and ethos, gospel and law” (p. 111).  In both the Hellenistic and Judaic contexts surrounding Paul, the dual notion of nomos and Torah were maintained.  Exegetical work on Paul must then understand Paul’s intentional emphasis of haggadic elements to offset the perception of an overstressed halachic emphasis.  He writes, “The early church should be seen as an heir of those denominations in early Judaism that focused on Torah as the story of the free acts of God that he performed in order to establish righteousness on the human scene” (p. 114).  Later he explains, “The NT views the OT largely in terms of a story of God’s mighty acts of creation, election, and redemption, and within that view Torah also as the expression of God’s will for how to live before him” (p. 119).    
Sobol, Joseph, John S. Gentile, and Sunwolf. “Once Upon a Time:  An Introduction to the Inaugural Issue.” Storytelling, Self and Society 1.1 (2004): 1-5.
Storytelling, Self and Society is a new peer-reviewed, academic journal that explores the application of storytelling in particular contexts—therapy, education, organizational development.  The introduction to the journal discusses the distinctions between narrative theories and storytelling. 
Thulin, Richard L. “Retelling Biblical Narratives as the Foundation for Preaching.” Journeys toward Narrative Preaching. Ed. Wayne Bradley Robinson. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1990.
Thulin’s approach is generally to combine the retelling of a biblical narrative with a non-biblical narrative.  He suggests that the non-biblical narrative can serve as the introduction, the conclusion, or interwoven with the biblical narrative.
Willimon, William. “Preaching: Entertainment or Exposition.” Christian Century February 28 1990: 204, 06.
Willimon is critical of narrative preaching viewing it as overly dedicated to entertainment. 
Witherington, Ben. New Testament History : A Narrative Account. Grand Rapids, Mich.
—. Paul’s Narrative Thought World : The Tapestry of Tragedy and Triumph. 1st ed. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.

Value Identification in Narrative Discourse

It is easier to get people to tell stories first and then think of ways to analyze them afterward.  Narratives include–Plot (events), Characters and the way they are characterized, setting (time and place), and narration (particularly symbols and metaphors).  The rubric below is from an old article in a Journal published by National Communication Association.  It focuses on action (plot) and character with a thought about how we identify values within them.  These are rules primarily for text analysis but are possible thoughts for listening.  “Terminal values” = what a person ultimately wants; “Instrumental values” = what is valued for what it enables us to do/achieve/be. 
Taken from Vanderford, M. L., Smith, D. H., & Harris W. S. (1992). Value identification in narrative discourse: Evaluation of an HIV education demonstration project. Journal of Applied Communication Research20(2): 123-160.
Rules of Analysis of Actions

To find terminal values:

    1. Focus on prescribed actions within the stories–evaluative oughts/shoulds. The storyteller indicates what should or should not be done in a particular situation. Underneath these recommendations for specific action are generalize values that serve as a guide across many incidents.
    2. Focus on goals, implied by the storyteller, that actions are designed to fulfill. These goals are desirables or values.
    3. Focus on the storyteller’s justification for a chosen action. Justifications constitute good reasons, which Fisher (1978) identifies as values.
    4. Focus on action that are praised or condemned by the storyteller. Praise and condemnation of a specific action express an attitude. The analysis dissects the attitude into specific information and the underlying value, the fulfillment or violation of which leads to the praise or condemnation.
    5. Focus on actions that the storyteller repeats. If actions are repeated, they reveal values that people may not espouse verbally, but subscribe to behaviorally.

To find instrumental values

    1. Focus on cause and effect relationships developed in the story’s plot
    2. Focus on action identified in a story as leading to the fulfillment of a terminal value. That action generalized is an instrumental value.
    3. Focus on action identification as blocking a goal. The opposite of that action, when generalized, is identified as an instrumental value, i.e., a means to a terminal value.
Rules for Analysis of Characters
Focus on positive and negative labels attributed to personal characteristics. These constitute attitudes, which may be separated into specific information about the character, and the general values that are the basis for the prasie (when fulfilled) or blame (when violated).
Focus on postive or negative emogions felt toward particular people. These also constitute attitudeswhich may be separated into specific information and generalized values.
Focus on relationship between characters. What kind of actions are described as appropriate for what kind of character? Who is described as the appropriate decision maker within the plot? Such declarations constitute statements about the approriateness and general desirablity of roles and power, and so are values.
Focus on statements which include positive or negative evaluation of specific relationships between characters in the story. Specific information can be separated form underlying values, upon which the individual relationship is weighed and thus pronounced good or bad.
Focus on how storytellers identify and define themselves. Values are rooted in the identification of the self which has been acquired as part of the development of self-image.
Focus on what the storytellers identify as their needs. Those things, when generalized, constitute desirable or valuables.
Focus on where the storyteller puts his/her attention. The assumption underlying this element is that people spend more time talking about what is most important to them, hence topic selection and time spent are kyes to their values.

If I Were Satan

If I were Satan I would not tempt Christians with sex, gluttony, or drunkenness. People are tempted in those ways enough on their own. I would tempt blessed people to see themselves as deficient. Ungrateful Christians are far more dangerous to the Christian message than licentious Christians  are.

I would tempt empowered American Christians to believe they are vulnerable and disempowered. When powerful people act like victims they appear silly to everyone else. And if I were Satan I would want nothing more than to make Christians look silly.

I would tempt Christians into believing that it is more important to defend Jesus than it is to follow him. I would tempt Christians to believe that dialogue means agreement. If Christians refuse to talk to people who disagree with them, they will not grow very fast. If I were Satan I would not want Christians to grow very fast.

I would tempt Christians to read only the parts of scripture that make them feel good until they encounter someone they don’t like and then I’d point them to the passages that they can use against the people they don’t like. On second thought, I’d tempt Christians to distrust scripture and elevate their own experience and personal rationalizations to the level of ultimate authority. 

If I were Satan I’d convince everyone that they are experts in matters of faith.  I’d eliminate the need for biblical scholars and theologians, relegate the role of pastors to sympathizers, and absolute convince people to ignore prophets.  Prophets wouldn’t be prophets if I were Satan.  They’d be joe.  I’d convince people that humor is an legitimate rebuttal to ideas they find uncomfortable. 

If I were Satan I would tempt Christians into seeing other Christians as enemies. I would tempt liberals to attack fundamentalists. I would tempt fundamentalists to attack charismatics. I would tempt charismatics to attack  traditionalists. I would tempt Protestants to attack Catholics and Catholics to attack Orthodox.  I would tempt Christians to remain divided by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, politics, economic status and lifestyle. Divided Christians are impotent. United Christians would scare me if I were Satan.

I would tempt them into believing that face to face conversation is unreliable but tweets,  Facebook posts, circulating emails and blogs are absolutely transparent.  And if I were Satan, I’d hack into a pastor’s blog dashboard and post the things he believes but is too chicken to say from the pulpit just to see what kind of trouble I could kick up for him. 

Basic Narratives in News Commentary


Contemporary opinionated news commentary seems to have a few basic narratives through which it funnels every news story.  What I mean by opinionated news commentary are the political pundits who report, analyze and interpret current events with an acknowledged subjective perspective this could include everyone from Rachel Madow to Rush Limbaugh.
These basic narratives are:
·         Originating impulses are being ignored.  The yearnings that made the hearts of the founders of our country beat are codified into a catalogue of national values—freedom, justice, prosperity, domestic peace.  These yearnings are being jeopardized by neglect or outright and deliberate attack.
·         Basic freedoms are being threatened.
·         Unquestioned moral principles are being violated.
·         Essential duties are being neglected.
·         Economic prosperity is being gambled.