The Gospels as Stories: A Narrative Approach to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – Jeannine K. Brown

Everyone loves a good story. It is one of those delights as a child that never seems to leave us into adulthood, and for good reason. The Gospel accounts are stories. We meet Jesus in God’s Word through stories. Brown takes this premise and expounds on the importance of story in the Gospels, while explaining how reading the Gospels as stories allows us to see and meet Jesus in a profound way.

The book is broken up into four sections concerning four characteristics of story that we see in the Gospels. Brown walks us through (1) the importance of plot and plotting through the Gospel narratives, (2) the development of characters and how the use of these characters shape each other and the reader, (3) how the Gospels use and interact with other texts of Scripture (also known as intertextuality), and (4) introduces us to narrative theology, how a story develops and enhances the study of God.

For each of these four sections, Brown demonstrates through one of the Gospel accounts how these characteristics and storytelling techniques are used. For instance, we look at narrative plotting in Luke, the disciples as characters in Matthew, etc.

If I’m going to be honest, this book really surprised me. I was expecting a very technical dive into the intricacies of narrative that had little to do with the Gospels impact on us today. But I was quite wrong! As I read, I began to realize more and more how crucial understanding these aspects of story are to understanding the purpose of the Gospels and what the authors were wanting to communicate. This turned out to be a really handy book. Whenever I am studying the Gospels, I will definitely be referring back to it. There are tons of figures and charts that organize how the Gospels utilized these different storytelling methods. This book has helped move me forward in my reading of the Gospel accounts and to view them and to view Jesus as the authors really intended.

Jesus is both simple and complex. Story has a way of handling and communicating both sides in a way that opens our eyes and our hearts to who He really is. If you want to understand this better, I highly recommend this book to you.

*This book was provided by Baker Academic in exchange for an honest review.

Read & Repeat

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