“How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

We continue our series of 100 questions for missional Bible reading by asking a slightly different question concerning the missio Dei. In question one I asked, “How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”. So how is today’s question different?

Over the last few years I have been working on a PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job at the University of Gloucestershire, under the supervision of Prof. Gordon McConville. Many more post on this topic to follow(!), but the key thing I want to pick out today is that asking how a text ‘fits into’ the big story of the Bible is only one (albeit important) way of probing the relationship between the text and that story.

Why is it that writing on the Old Testament and mission often ends up circling around texts that progress the chronological storyline or ‘plot’ of the Bible? It is easy to see how a text like Gen. 12:1-3 fits into and progresses the story of God’s purposes in the world because it is a key point in the chronological development of that story.

But what about those texts that do not progress the storyline, like Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs, etc? It seems to be that they require a different kind of question to unlock more fully their relationship with the grand narrative. Hence my original, if rather general and bland question, “How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

In the case of Job, one of the ways it can be seen as relating to the grand narrative is not by fitting into it but standing apart from it. More on this at a later date. In the meantime, let me ask you a question: Which biblical texts do you think are neglected in mission thinking and practice, and why do you think they are?

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