“How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”

The first question in our series on ‘100 questions for missional Bible reading’ (see series introduction post here) is perhaps the most basic and most commonly asked. The purpose of the missional interpretation of Scripture is to read biblical texts in the light of the missional nature of the Bible. I’ll be unpacking this statement repeatedly over the coming months but at its most basic level we need to read the Bible with the recognition that it is telling a story, or rather, THE story.

Writing about the OT Chris Wright has recently written the following which I think is a helpful way of unpacking the question, although as I will suggest in future posts, this quote at least also seems to assume something quite limiting as we consider the relationship between biblical texts and the big story of the Bible; i.e., that a text relates to the story by ‘fitting into it’. Nevertheless, it’s a very good starting point that provides a baseline for a lot of missional reflection on the Bible:

This is the great overarching framework of the biblical narrative, which renders to us the mission of God… a missional hermeneutic will work hard to read any text in the Old Testament canon within this overarching narrative framework, discerning its place within that framework, assessing how the shape of the grand narrative is reflected in the text in question, and conversely, how the particular text contributes to and moves forward the grand narrative itself. (Wright, ‘Mission and OT Interpretation’, in Bartholomew and Beldman’s Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), p. 184.)

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