Old Testament Biblical Narratives

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A narrative is a sequence of events linked together and is often described as a story. The word “narrative” is often preferred over the term “story” because “story” often implies a fictional retelling, or one not based in reality. According to Fee & Stuart (pg 90) “Narratives are stories-purposeful stories retelling the historical events of the past that are intended to give meaning and direction for a given people in the present.”

Often, Christians misread the Old Testament by virtue of assuming that everything God has said in his Word is a directive specifically assigned to them. They therefore misinterpret the Bible as clear instruction for their individual lives. In actuality, the Bible is a resource to be read and understood using discernment. Fee & Stuart caution us from falling victim to the following errors: allegorizing, or interpreting text as reflection of other text; decontextualizing, ignoring the full context; selectivity, ignoring some phrases in text; moralizing, assuming life principles can be derived from all passages; personalizing; or individualizing; misappropriation, appropriating text for purposes foreign to the narrative; false appropriation, reading into biblical narrative suggestions stemming from contemporary culture; false combination; mixing elements from various passages to make a point-even though the passages are not connected; and redefinition, simply changing text to produce spiritual delight or fulfillment.

To truly understand and obey scripture, we must understand that no passage or narrative was written specifically about us, the reader. Biblical narratives often describe how God worked through others, and it is through those teachings that we should learn-but not assume-that God expects us to do the same as the referenced characters. In fact, as is typical through learning, we may find that what people do in narratives is actually the opposite of what God would want us to do. For example, in the narrative of...
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