Narrative of The Bible
The Bible is a unique collection of books written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors including writers such as kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen and scholars. The Bible is written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) across three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe). Yet, when we read the Bible, we examine a unified story from Genesis to Revelations. The Bible isn’t a random collection of 66 books but in each book, they aren’t disconnected stories like in a newspaper, instead, there is a common thread with a unified story once you look at the big picture. Each book of the Bible is like individual moments of one great symphony. This one ultimate story is oftentimes called a “metanarrative”.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God. This is the Big Story of the Bible, the purpose for which it was written. Each of its sixty-six books contributes to telling this Big Story—a story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. The Bible aims to tell us this Big Story in a thousand smaller stories, from its first page to its last.
It follows, then, that our purpose in studying must be to look for that Big Story each time we go to the Scriptures. We should study asking not just what a particular portion of Scripture wants to tell us, but how that portion of Scripture is telling us the Big Story of the Bible as a whole. Studying the Bible with purpose means keeping its overarching message in view at all times, whether we are in the Old Testament or the New, whether we are in the Minor Prophets or the Gospels. In order to do this, we must “pan out” from anyone particular book or passage and gain an appreciation for how it plays its part in unfolding the Big Story.
Let’s take the famous example of Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace. Most people, when asked to give an answer regarding what the book is about, often struggle. Many people would say that it is just a collection of many individual people and their stories. It isn’t until you finish the book that you see the story Tolstoy is trying to tell us. In a similar way, it can be quite easy to see the Bible as a collection of many individual stories, but it is important that we see what is God trying to say through all the individual stories and events recorded.
The story of the Bible clearly presents us with one over-arching story which starts in the garden, climaxes at the life, death and resurrection of Christ and ends in a City of God, the New Jerusalem. Each of these smaller stories plays an integral role in the big story. Both understanding the individual stories as well as the larger story is an important part of helping you read the Bible. In order to understand the individual stories, you have to understand the big story, and in order to understand the big story, you have to understand the individual stories and how they all fit together.
In other words, we need to see the big picture of God’s plan, the whole of the Biblical story, to see how all the pieces of life, as well as all the parts of the Bible, finally fit together.
The whole Bible is a story about the nature and person of God, and at its very centre is Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Old Testament is to look point towards and to foreshadow him, whilst the New testament flows from him.