Hermeneutics and Blue Parakeets: The Story’s Plot

bible.jpgMcKnight explains that the Story of the Bible is held together by 5 themes —

* Creating Eikons (Genesis 1 – 2): Theme is Oneness

* Cracked Eikons (Genesis 3 – 11): Theme is Otherness

* Covenant Community (Genesis 12 – Malachi): Theme is Otherness Expands

* Christ, the Perfect Eikon, redeems (Matthew – Revelation 20): Theme is One in Christ

* Consummation (Revelation 21 – 22): Theme is Perfectly One

(“Eikon” is the Greek word for “image.” Humans are made in the image of God and hence are eikons.)

McKnight says, “The unity of the Bible is this Story. It is this Story that puts the Bible together.” (page 67).

Genesis 1 – 2

McKnight begins by partially translating Genesis 1:26-27 —

26 Then God said, “Let us make [the Adam = humans] in our [Eikon], in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created [the Adam] in his own [Eikon], in the [Eikon] of God he created him; male and female he created them.

In Genesis 2, God split The Adam into two, called ish and ishah (man and woman), which he then joined into one flesh as husband and wife.

In brief, the point of Genesis 1 -2 is this: God wanted The Adam to enjoy what the Trinity had eternally enjoyed and what the Trinity continues to enjoy: perfect communion and mutuality with an equal. The Adam was in union with God and itself and Eden. But in another sense, The Adam stood alone in Genesis 2. As The Adam sorts through all the animals, The Adam was without communion with an equal. So, to make the need for communion and love abundantly clear, God openly reveals that this aloneness is not what God wants for The Adam. God wants The Adam to be two in order to experience the glories of communion of love and mutuality.

Genesis 3

In Genesis 3, of course, Adam and Eve sin. They begin to experience “otherness,” wish to wear clothes and hide from God. The result is a curse in which the man and the wife each seek dominance over the other.

The rest of the Old Testament is all about God’s work to cure this otherness, this separation of man from God and man from each other.

Now, most Bible students will immediately think of Jesus and his redeeming work on the cross (oops — his agonizing death paying the price for our sins). But God put 66 books and most of another between the beginning of otherness and the work of Jesus. We can’t abstract so fast that we ignore God’s own Story.

Covenant community

God spent several centuries, beginning with Abraham, creating community in covenant with God. You see, “God’s idea of redemption is community-shaped.”

Oneness cannot be achieved just between God and self; rather, oneness involves God, self, and others, and the world around us. There are pages and pages about this stuff.

We modern, American, evangelical Christians want a personal relationship with God and often don’t care to bother about others in the church, much less those in the world.

Then, in the New Testament, we get the same emphasis as in the Old Testament because we now read about how God’s Spirit invaded that little messianic community and drove it into the Roman Empire — and we are asked to care about how these local communities (i.e., churches) did in the Roman Empire.

God didn’t give us a book on systematic theology. He gave us letters to churches — covenant communities influenced by the Spirit — but limited by the imperfection of the flesh — to restore the Oneness for which Jesus died.

When was the last time you heard a sermon on restoring Oneness? Or, for that matter, on restoring the community of Eden? Or on our mission to end the Otherness in the world?

You see, the Story matters.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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