Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Narrative Context of Paul's Teaching to the Hebrews

One comment that has always plagued me on composition papers is my utter lack of examples. Perhaps ther reason is that too many examples in other people's writing bore me. Too many nonfiction books written these days for the general reading audience can be condensed into a few paragraphs. That's all I need. Instead, what I find are books of seemingly endless anecdotes as though such accounts constitute proof that the conclusions are true. Certainly, the use of storytelling can be persuasive. However, it lends itself to the current state of anti-intellectualism in which our ideas are propogated.

That said, there is a place for narratives.

Textual critics of the Bible have as their purpose the undermining of the foundation of orthodox Christian doctrine. However, nearly all such theology is derived from the historical narrative of the Bible. Often the Pauline theological applications, gospel accounts, pre-Mosaic narratives and a key prophet or two is generally held under the highest scrutiny. The part of the Bible most left unadulterated by the foolish speculations of the textual critics are the bulk of the narrative.

Hebrews, like many other Pauline texts, contains extensive references to the Hebrew scriptures. The quotes here are usually from the prophets, but the prophets and their prophesies are found in the historical narrative which lend itself hansomely to appropriate context. The Jews to whom Paul wrote would have understood this.

God, however, doesn't offer anecdotal evidence as proof of the the claims made through Paul's teaching. Instead, the history provides incontrovertible substance within which the narrative of God's redemption of His creation through Christ plays out. Therefore, history is not a mere example, it itself constitutes the revelation of Christ. In turn, God's prophets within the historical context spell out the revelation for us.

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