Thursday, November 22, 2007

Personal Canon

I had a prof who said we all had our own personal canon of Bible stories that we loved and that we rooted ourselves in. He had a theory about what gospels groups preferred too: liberals he said preferred Luke, Catholics Matthew, evangelicals John, Lutherans Paul, and fundamentalists Revelation.

Aaron, over at Aaron's Head, makes an interesting observation about the way in which people's favourite story of Jesus says something about who they are. My favourite stories are the prodigal parables from Luke's gospel. Part of the reason they resonate so deeply with me is that these were the stories my grandma told me over and over again when I was little. Part of it is because the story of the lost sheep came alive for me in my conversion when I was seventeen. Part of it is because I had a confessor who read me the story of the prodigal daughter once. I have known what it is like to be lost. I have known what it is to have been found. I have known what it is like to wait hopefully for the lost to return. I have known what it is like to go searching for the lost. And I've known what it is to be the resentful older brother. If I had only this chapter and the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus I think I'd have the heart of the gospel.

I know that it is important to teach people to read Scripture critically (in the proper sense of that word and not the negative sense), but I like what Aaron asked his study because I don't know if we encourage people to read with love enough in mainline churches. I think I'm going to ask the folks in our bible study the same question to see what they say.


Tim Chesterton said...

Jonah - that's my favourite book of the Bible. I especially like it when Jonah calls God a cream puff. And the last chapter is the funniest scene in the Bible.

For gospels I like Matthew - such a practical book for disciples. Also the letters of James and Peter.

aaronorear said...

My favourite of the four gospels is Mark...not among your prof's categories. Perhaps that's for impatient people who like to walk fast.

Erin said...

I too like Jonah Tim - especially since reading Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. Matthew, not so much. One of my favourite sermons ever was one I did about James and why he has been sorely misinterpreted by Luther. Timothy Luke Johnson suggests it is Christian midrash on Leviticus 19 - loving your neighbour.

I must be impatient too Aaron because I love Mark. We did a parish bible study of Mark and it took us two years to finish. I loved every minute of it. But wait, Lazarus being raised isn't in Mark so you'd have to have a flexible canon too.

Pastorally my favourite letter is 2 Corinthians. I have a mentor who got me to read and pray through it when I was having some struggles - fell in love with it. Would have to include it in my little sub canon.

joseph said...

I would have to go with Psalms and with John as favorites.

Kevin said...

In order: Galatians, Romans, Luke, Matthew, John. The rest is commentary.