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Tony Jones: Inhabiting the Biblical Narrative


Tony Jones, “Inhabiting the Biblical Narrative: How I Learned to Stop Doing Bible Studies and Start Loving the Bible Again” Youthworker (May/Jun 2004, Vol 20, No 5), pages 30-34.

In the midst of serving other people and the details of life, it can be easy to forget that there is one large story of humanity. No other book captures the truth and circumstances of humans better than the Bible. It is the history of the world from family to family to family – the story of the One True God who acted within the timeline of humanity to accomplish His purposes. However, it remains all too easy to concentrate on the minutia of scripture and miss the main story that life is all about.

When you look beyond the rigid study of individual words in the Bible, you come to appreciate how God relates to people. Life is about relationships; living is about people. It really helps to read the Bible with this in mind.

Tony Jones, from

Tony tells us that his adventure into the story of the Bible started when the high school students he discipled did not want to study a Christian pop-culture book. They wanted to really get to know the Bible, even though they feared that, as had happened before, they would fail to grasp the relevance of the Bible for their lives. The students knew that they should be reading and understanding the Bible, and felt guiltily for not making the connection.

Yet, the Bible is the only book that can feed the soul. It is the only book that comforts, that loves, that challenges, that raises questions, and answers the question of why we are here. All of these benefits can be lost when we allow the story that God is telling to stop affecting who we are and what we do.

I’d become a scientist in a lab coat. I’d been taught to take a piece of God’s story and put it in a Petri dish, then to put it under a microscope and get it down to its smallest part, from selection to sentence to phrase to word to syllable. When I read this, I realized the same had been true of me. We forget to think about what culture was like when we read scripture. We forget to think about the smells, the armies, the dress code, the food, and everything else that helps us remember the stories of our ancestors as being real and not a dusty fairy tale wearing a religious mask. Being more serious about the overall narrative will hopefully give us real and vivid images of God’s movement in history to replace the trinkets and bumper stickers that often trivialize the history of God and man.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2006

About the Author: John Datema, is Family Life Minister at Meridian Christian Church in Lansing, Michigan. With many years of experience in pastoral ministry and education, he enjoys combining his technological background to develop resources and opportunities to help families thrive.

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