Review: In the Beginning, There Were Stories: Thoughts about the Oral Tradition of the Bible

In the Beginning, There Were Stories: Thoughts about the Oral Tradition of the BibleIn the Beginning, There Were Stories: Thoughts about the Oral Tradition of the Bible by William J. Bausch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The basic principle espoused in this book is a simple one – the Bible is not first and foremost a written text that must be used and analysed as a written text, but a collection of stories that should be approached in that way. While the Bible is currently written down, to properly appreciate and appropriate the Truth found within the text you must approach it as stories, something that find their true significance when they are read aloud as stories.

While there is much to be said for the theory proposed by William Bausch, it is, I believe, only part of the story. It is possible to study the written text and use all the techniques one would approach when analysing any written text – but with the fundamental appreciation that what is being analysed started out as a spoken story. Rather than an either/or approach, I much prefer a both/and approach, an approach which allows the fullness of the scriptural reality to be appreciated.

This is a well-written book that is very accessible to any reader. There is no need for a high level of scriptural literacy to appreciate the significance of what Bausch is attempting to convey, and as such this book should be read far and wide by anyone who wishes to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the Bible.

From the back cover:

Storytelling is a key element of our faith, and the Bible is a true repository of faith stories. Stories of God’s action in history, rooted in the culture of the people, were handed down in oral fashion, sometimes for generations before they were ever written down.

In this latest book, popular author Bill Bausch uses the key of storytelling to help readers approach the Bible with new eyes and hearts. In his conversational style and with many examples and anecdotes, he discusses revelation, truth wrapped in story, the difference between print and the oral story, and the chasm between the biblical culture and contemporary culture.

Father Bausch believes that God’s passionate love is revealed not in doctrine and dogmas but in the stories of Scripture. In the Beginning There Were Stories provides an ideal introduction to reading Scripture, reflecting on it, and discussing it with others.

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