Review: The Blue Parakeet, Part 2
Scot McKnight offers great insights into reading the Bible

In an earlier post, I outlined the content of Scot McKnight's new book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking how you read the Bible. Here are a few reflections on what I consider the book's primary strengths and weaknesses.

First the strengths.

There is much about The Blue Parakeet that is praiseworthy. McKnight's conversation about reading the Bible as story is immensely helpful. I was in college before I learned (in a Bible interpretation class) that the Good Book is really one giant narrative that runs from Genesis to Revelation. That insight changed the way I understood and approached the Scriptures. What McKnight adds to that observation is the idea that each of the 66 books of the canon is a wiki-story - a unique retelling of the metanarrative.

The major benefit of thinking about the Bible in this way is that it forces us to recognize that the later writers (like Paul) are translating and applying the older writers (like Moses). Growing up, I thought of the relationship between the books of the Bible in this way: picture all the authors of the Bible standing on the platform at your church. When Moses finishes his part of the story, he hands the microphone to the writer of Joshua, who talks for a while, passes the mic down the aisle, and so on until Paul takes over the story. If each author is simply giving one part of the whole story, then it gets really confusing when the author's seem to contradict each other. But if we think of each author as retelling the single, major story from his unique context and perspective, then we get a real sense of the way God's relationship with his people has developed over time. So Paul doesn't contradict Moses' teaching on the Law; he interprets it in the first century.

On a practical level, that gives us great biblical examples of how God's people have had to reconsider how to live the Bible message in each generation. If you've had some exegesis classes and have gotten the sneaking suspicion that Paul would have failed Interp 101, you'll probably appreciate McKnight's insights on this point.

The second great aspect of The Blue Parakeet is its consistent emphasis on behavior. McKnight is clearly concerned about how we apply Scripture, and that is evident from the first page to the last. It's refreshing to read a book about the Bible that isn't as concerned with explicating every detail as it is with making sure that Christians are equipped to live Christianly. The overall effect this commitment has on the reader is to demystify the interpretation process so that it doesn't feel like the job of professionals and specialists. McKnight offers a vision of exegesis that makes the Bible accessible to everyone.

October 24, 2008

Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments


October 26, 2008  10:12pm

Thanks for this review - sounds like a very helpful book

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Darren King

October 24, 2008  10:41am

Certainly McKnight is right that a more helpful, honest, consistent way to understand the Bible is to see its canonical metanarrative, as well as the nuances and worldview specifics located in some of the wiki parts. Hopefully this will help people see we cannot simply approach the Bible like a law book - as if it were written in one fell-swoop. I know people realize it was written over a very long period of time, by different authors with slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) different worldviews. But I still see people trying to interpret it as if it were one seamless whole. It's not. That is to say, you can't really compare, apples for apples, Exodus and Romans. But people try and do it all the time - at least in evangelical camps. I think it was N.T. Wright who suggested we think of our role (within the grand story) as being members of an acting group, who've come across an unfinished, four act Shakespeare play. Our role is to imagine, and live out, the fifth act, in a way that is consistent with the earlier four. Is it the same as Act 3 or 4? No. But it will be a faithful progression of those earlier themes. I wrote more about the issue of biblical interpretation, within the larger theme of discerning authority, at my new blog:

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