Have you ever noticed that the Bible tells stories about God and his dealings with us, just as much as it makes doctrinal or theological statements about him? For example, the Old Testament could be said to be dominated by the telling and retelling of the story of how God led his people out of Egypt into the Promised Land. There are also stories of battles, love affairs, betrayals, healings, the building of temples, and disastrous sieges. In a similar way, the New Testament is also dominated by a story of God’s redeeming action in history, this time centering on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is helpful to think of Paul’s letters, for example, as systematic attempts to spell out the relevance for Christians of the story of Jesus Christ.

It is insights like these that lie behind the development of one of the most important theological movements to develop in the last 20 years—narrative theology. It has developed largely in North America, with many observers detecting especially close links with Yale Divinity School. Although the term narrative theologian has failed to gain general acceptance, narrative theology has come to have a major impact on much English-language theology since the early 1970s.

The basic feature of narrative theology is the attention it pays to narratives, or stories, in relation to Christian theology. This has proved to be of considerable interest and importance in giving a new sense of direction to theology, and especially in reforging the often neglected link between systematic theology and the study of Scripture.

The Beginning Of The Story

The origins of this movement are complex. One of the most important sources was a writer who was neither theologian nor biblical scholar, but ...

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