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The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story Paperback – November 1, 2004
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"'... [enables] even the beginner to grasp the sense of Scripture as a single great story - a drama in which we are all invited to pay a part. I am delighted to see solid scholarship made easily accessible in this splendid fashion.' Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham 'The Drama of Scripture should be read, discussed, and acted on by Christians everywhere... Engaging almost every book of the Bible, Bartholomew and Goheen help us see the dynamic forward movement of the story that has not yet reached its end. The story encompasses us and calls for our conscious, enthusiastic engagement.' Jim Skillen, President, Center for Public Justice, Washington, D.C" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
This updated and revised edition surveys the grand narrative of the Bible, demonstrating how the biblical story forms the foundation of a Christian worldview.
Praise for the First Edition
"Much recent scholarship has emphasized the narrative quality of Scripture. This book takes that insight and brings it to life, enabling even the beginner to grasp the sense of Scripture as a single great story--a drama in which we are all invited to play a part. I am delighted to see solid scholarship made easily accessible in this splendid fashion."
--N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews; former bishop of Durham
"An intelligent, engaging overview of the narrative of Scripture in six acts. Bartholomew and Goheen have produced a clear and theologically sensitive account of the Bible that is perfect for college students or adult Bible study groups."
--Christopher Seitz, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
"This is a vivid introduction to reading the Bible as a coherent story of God's purposes for the world. It will not only help the new reader but also enable the experienced reader to distinguish the central themes of Scripture from mere sidelights."
--Gordon J. Wenham, author of Story as Torah and Psalms as Torah
"A volume that will help inexperienced readers of the Bible get a view of the big picture before moving into more atomistic treatments of the Bible. It will serve well in introductory level Bible courses and may serve equally well in basic courses in hermeneutics. Its easy, nontechnical language will make it a popular text with such students."
--Review of Biblical Literature
"Every once in a while a book comes along that immediately meets a real need. This is one of those books. . . . [It] will serve college students, pastors, and scholars well in their efforts to understand and live the Christian story."
--Canadian Evangelical Review
"The book succeeds in making a case for a cohesive narrative in scripture, most successfully in relating the NT to OT in themes of covenant and promise, and when exploring briefly the idea of the contemporary Christian church continuing to be a player in the drama."
--Journal for the Study of the New Testament --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
They basically walk through the storyline of Scripture, with an eye to missional living throughout. I highly recommend this book! The chapter on the intertestamental period was very insightful for setting the background of the Jews and the coming of Christ. I also appreciated the emphasis on inaugurated eschatology, and the emphasis on the cosmic scope of redemption. 5 out of 5.
"Furthermore, the kingdom of God has arrived in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Two great figures stand at the entrances to two worlds: Adam stands at the gate of the old world, Jesus at the gate of the new. Adam's first sin inaugurated the old age and brought sin, death, and condemnation. Now in Jesus a new day of righteousness, life, and justification has come (Romans 5:12-21). If we are 'in Adam', we are part of the old age and under its sway. But if we are 'in Christ', we are part of the age to come and can already experience God's life-giving power" (189)
"If our lives are to be shaped and formed by Scripture, we need to know the biblical story well, to feel it in our bones. To do this, we must also know our own place within it--where we are int the story" (197)
"Salvation is not an escape from creational life into 'spiritual' existence: it is the restoration of God's rule over all of creation and all of human life. Neither is salvation merely the restoration of a personal relationship with God, important as that is. Salvation goes further: it is the restoration of the whole life of humankind and ultimately of the nonhuman creation as well" (199)
For similar theology and outlook, see N.T. Wright's article on how the Bible can be authoritative (they have been greatly influenced by his work), Dempster's book, Robert's book God's Big Picture, and Hoekema's book The Bible and the Future.
Bartholomew and Goheen seem to do little to qualify their position other than cite a few passages of scripture (all within one paragraph, pg 24) and briefly disqualify other themes as side entrances (within the same paragraph!). The very foundation of the book thus bears very little propositional qualification. The theme of "covenant" for the Old Testament seems more self-evident than does the "kingdom of God" theme for the New Testament. Though the ministry of Jesus was clearly focused on the theme of the kingdom of God, yet eighty-three of the ninety-seven occurrences of the phrase '''''''' ''' ''''/''''''' (kingdom of God/heaven) occur in the Gospel narratives. That includes all the occurrences that could be eliminated as unoriginal through a synopsis of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Considering also that the Church has largely relied on Paul for its Christology and Soteriology--its interpretation of the Gospel--quickly disqualifying the "presence" theme of the New Testament seems precarious: "...entrances such as `promise' and `presence'...are helpful, but they are a bit like side chapels or side entrances rather than the main entrance" (pg 24). In fact, Paul uses the phrase "kingdom of God" a total of nine times in the New Testament, whereas his use of the phrase "in Christ" occurs an overwhelming eighty-eight times, which is indeed a strong case for the "presence" theme that Bartholomew and Goheen so readily dismiss.
If time and space permitted, it would be a worthy argument to challenge "presence" versus "kingdom of God" in vying for the theme of the New Testament. Suffice it here to address these themes with regard to their ends, for the purpose of, at least, gaining perspective and, at best, sobering the assumption that the "kingdom of God" is indisputably the central theme of the New Testament. Simply put, the argument of the quintessential New Testament theme being "kingdom of God" could very well fall into an "anthropo-centric" focus rather than a "Christo-centric" focus.
First, following the line of the "covenant" theme of the Old Testament, it is Christ himself, not the kingdom of God, who fulfills the Old Covenant and becomes, in effect, the New Covenant (Lk 22:20). The kingdom of God may perhaps be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7), but it is only such insofar as Christ is the King of that fulfillment. Thus the nuance between King and kingdom need be distinguished. If one were to argue for the "presence" theme instead of the "kingdom of God," what might the case look like and what would its end be?
The "presence" as a theme for the New Testament encompasses the presence of God in Jesus Christ--Emmanuel--and the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. The "presence" theme centralizes God in Christ and God in the Holy Spirit not only as the main character, but also the main plot of the New Testament. Paul's tireless usage of "in Christ" (not to mention the author of Acts pressing insistence that everything the early church did was through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit) further supports the presence theme as the necessary theme around which the New Testament is built. As such, the kingdom of God is a byproduct of the advent of Jesus Christ, and Christians exist in and live by the kingdom of God as a byproduct of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The "presence" theme as primary seems to draw attention "God-ward," whereas the "kingdom of God" theme as primary tends to draw the attention "human-ward," e.g. much of the rhetoric of the kingdom of God today uses language like "do" and "be" the "kingdom," rather than focusing on Christ himself as King, proclaiming the Kingdom through Christ, and following the King's servant example. In the presence theme one must interpret the kingdom of God through the lens of Jesus Christ; in the kingdom of God theme one must interpret Jesus Christ through the kingdom of God. Jesus becomes a means to an end, the King subject to His own kingdom.
This is not to imply that the kingdom of God is not a critically important theme of the New Testament, but rather that it does not seem to readily merit the status of The New Testament theme without proper qualification. Perhaps the safest assumption for The New Testament theme is the theme of "Jesus Christ." Christ Himself as the essential theme of the New Testament may seem like a simplistic treatment of the biblical story, but it is certainly the safest. By focusing on Christ as the theme the biblical story still has a focus on the kingdom of God (with Christ as King), the salvation of man (with Christ as Savior), the aid to the needy (with Christ as exemplar), covenants fulfilled (with Christ as the fulfillment), prophecies fulfilled (with Christ as the fulfillment), the role of the Church (with Christ as the Head), and the coming judgment (with Christ as the Judge). Christ-the-theme ties all the subsequent themes together. The kingdom of God theme does not seem adequate for the task.
(I wonder if their choice of the kingdom of God theme is based more on popular contemporary theology and today's trendiness as regards the kingdom of God than it is an attempt at an unbiased, agenda-less account of the biblical story.)
If you want a good summary of the bible (including the intertestamental period), this book may be good for you. If you already have a good understanding of the biblical time-line, you may find this book redundant. If you have a "kingdom of God" agenda, and are looking for a book to support your opinions, you may also find this book helpful.