How do we apply the biblical paradigm to our own Bible reading? It starts with reading the Bible in movements—the thematic patterns in which the biblical authors organized their ideas long before chapters and verse numbers were printed. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa introduce us to biblical movements and walk through how to identify and trace biblical themes on our own.
In our paradigm recovery effort, we’re asking: what’s the original design organization of these scrolls the authors want to highlight for us? It turns out that it’s different from our modern chapter and verse structure. For example, the author of Genesis has designed the scroll through large-scale patterning and broken the book into four sections that we’re calling movements. We’ve adopted the term from how symphonies are organized.
In part one (0:00-14:00), Tim, Jon, and Carissa kick off a brand new undertaking: reading the Bible in movements. It’s a follow-up to our Paradigm series. In short, if we accept the paradigm we’ve been discussing for the last several months, then how do we read the Bible accordingly? How did Jesus, the earliest Christians, and the biblical authors themselves read the Bible? How can we read the Bible in the same way?
We discussed the seven pillars of the paradigm at length in our podcast series.
In part two (14:00-19:45), the team discusses the upcoming BibleProject app and a method for learning how to read the Bible while reading the Bible.
All our previously released content will not only be housed in the new app, but we’ll also reveal how all our materials and biblical content are connected and interrelated. For instance, when we release our theme videos, discovering and tracing those themes isn’t some kind of magic trick. It’s something anyone can do with the proper tools. As you use the app, you’ll be able to learn and practice the same skills we use to interpret the Bible by recognizing style, structure, and pattern.
In part three (19:45-29:30), Tim, John, and Carissa discuss style and structure.
Style refers to the variety of literary styles within the collection of scrolls that make up our modern Bibles. (For more on this, check out our How to Read the Bible series.)
Recognizing the literary styles within the Bible is like walking into a grocery store. When you walk into a grocery store, you don’t need someone to re-explain to you what you’ll find there every time you go. You, more or less, know what to expect. If we learn about the styles of literature in the Bible, we’ll know what to expect when we open to a new section of Scripture. For instance, we might know that in Paul’s letters, we’re going to find didactic speeches on human nature. But if we open the book of Psalms, we can expect to find something far less linear and concrete.
The structure of the Bible informs its meaning. The biblical authors wrote in such a way that the organization of the texts communicates as much as the words themselves. The Bible is a compilation of two main collections of scrolls, the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The Hebrew Bible is organized into three sections: The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The New Testament contains two main categories of scrolls: The Gospel accounts and Acts and the letters of the apostles.
In part four (29:30-37:45), the team discusses biblical patterns.
The scrolls of the Hebrew Bible weren’t organized by chapters and verses. Rather, each “paragraph” had a one-word title that Jewish students would memorize. Our modern chapters and verses are helpful for finding information, but they can also cause confusion when they interrupt storylines. It’s important to remember that the end of a chapter doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a train of thought.
The biblical authors organized scrolls by large-scale patterning. We’re calling those thematic patterns movements, like the movements of a symphony.
In part five (37:45-48:00), Tim, Jon, and Carissa unpack the idea of movements. In discussing movements, our goal is to give you the tools to trace themes through the story of the Bible for yourself.
It can be helpful to think of the Bible like a mosaic. When you take a step back, you can see a massive and beautiful picture. When you take a step closer, you’ll notice that the larger picture is composed of many smaller pictures and elements. Within the mosaic, words are like colors, and similar splashes of color may pop up throughout the mosaic. Patterns of words are one of the primary ways the biblical authors connect ideas within the story of Scripture. We call these repeated ideas hyperlinks.
In part six (48:00-57:21), Tim, Jon, and Carissa talk about another kind of pattern in the Bible, narrative patterning. Narrative patterning is exactly what it sounds like: the entire structure of a story and the sequencing of words within a story is repeated in a later story, but with key differences. The act of comparing and contrasting the two connected stories is one of the major ways the biblical authors communicate the significance of a narrative to us.
When you have a whole sequence of narrative patterns (e.g a seven-day creation narrative, a failure narrative, a division story that leads to decreation and a rescued remnant), we call that a melody. That’s the sequence we see first in Genesis 1-9, but it pops up again and again throughout the Bible.
Interested in more? Check out Tim’s library here.
Show produced by Cooper Peltz. Edited by Dan Gummel and Zach McKinley. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.
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