In Christianity, Jesus Christ embodies a number of different roles. He is at once, a rabbi, a revolutionary, a peasant, a king, and a messiah. What many forget is that Jesus was also a great storyteller. He knew that if you really want to truly affect a person’s life, you don’t speak intellectually (this is after all what the Pharisees did in the Bible). Instead, you tell a gripping tale.
In To Tell the Story, author C. Thomas Elkins explores the vast importance of the Story with a capital “s” (meaning the Word of God) in the Gospels, stressing its significance in carrying waves of important information to the reader or listener. “The stories which Jesus shared with us, and the stories about Jesus,” he writes, “were not presented as mere entertainment or pleasant literature, they were examples and analogies from human reality intended to reveal truth and to assist us in applying that truth to our human existence and our future hope.” For Elkin, embracing the Story is a way of liberating the human spirit.
Greatly influenced by theologian Karl Barth and the postliberal theology of George Lindbeck and Hans Wilhelm Frei, Elkins is erudite and persuasive, combining real heart with real learning and a strong understanding of his material. His analysis is thought-provoking, especially his sections on narrative preaching and his discussion of God’s covenant with his people.
Written as a theology dissertation, Elkin’s prose can sound academic at times. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it does limit the audience that might come to this book. Overall, while Elkins’ work is probably not suited to general readers, it provides an interesting introduction to the Narrative Theology for those who can navigate the author’s text.
Also available as an ebook.