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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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There is another problem with this narrative-historical program. Namely, that only around 10-15% of the audiences in the Greco-Roman world were literate. The bigger problem is related to the percentage of NT writings that were directed toward an audience that would have even the foggiest idea of Jewish apocalyptic literature and Jewish interpretive paradigms, both necessary in order to understand the message. For instance while Matthew’s audience was Jewish, Mark’s was Roman. Luke was written to an individual Roman while John’s audience was universal. Of the four gospel accounts, only one is predominantly Jewish. The others were directed toward thoroughly helenized audiences. It is this helenization process that is supposedly the culprit of unwittingly turning Jesus into God and hence, commiting idolatry by worshiping Him. It only gets worse in terms of the audience for whom most of the NT documents were addressed. It is a list of predominately helenized communities.

It is amazing to me that the NT writers knew the hermeneutical liabilities in these Gentile communities and did absolutely nothing to prevent them from inadvertingly and unwittingly turning Jesus into a deity. They should have know this was likely to happen given the nature of these highly religious communities.

Ben Witherington III tells us that these writings were, for the most part, sermons with predominantly pastoral concerns. I think he is right. These were sermons written to the new communities in Christ about what each community must confess and how it must live. The writings were directed to mostly simple, poor, uneducated Christians. The purpose: sanctification of mind and body. Scripture is given to transform us into the image of Christ.

Narrative realism or narrative-historical interpretation commits the error of giving privilege to one specific literary form of Scripture. And it does so without much justification. It requires predominatly Gentile audiences with extremely pagan polytheistic backgrounds to be highly competent in the Jewish intepretive paradigm, you know, the one that murdered the same Jesus that these communties are being instructed to die for, and they will. We need to appreciate and respect the fact that there are a diversity of genres in the revelation of Scripture and our hemerneutical method must be robust enough to account for each them adequately.