100 questions for missional Bible reading – question 2

“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?

100 questions for missional Bible reading – question 1

“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.)

100 questions for missional Bible reading – series introduction

This morning I was talking to a Luke-Acts class about the kind of questions we might ask that could help bring out the missional nature of the Bible. Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about this whole area and it seems to me that there are numerous questions one could ask.

So this morning I have set myself a challenge: over the coming months (years?) I will try to write a series of one hundred blog posts on such questions. I’d like to try and think of one hundred questions that we could ask of the text as we seek to read it missionally.

This is deliberately ambitious: partly to push myself to think creatively, and partly in an attempt to demonstrate that missional hermeneutics opens up all kinds of possibilities that can enrich personal Bible reading, the church, and scholarship.

What questions would you include?