Dramatic Encounters in the Bible

Dramatic Encounters in the Bible

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 145
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dramatic Encounters in the Bible
    Book Description:

    This book began when the author realised that, when people said they were fascinated by particular biblical passages, they were usu- ally ones that presented dramatic encounters between people and between God and people. Such are the passages interpreted in this book. They usually set a vivid scene that heightens the dramatic nature of the encounter, and animated dialogue often directly ad- dresses the reader. There is also animated action that is vividly striking and often sudden and unexpected. These features involve the readers themselves and may question them about what they expect. Indeed the dramatic encounters provocatively lead to unex- pected new life in the future.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-05-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In writing of dramatic encounters, I do not mean to imply that the narratives discussed here are by genre drama in the sense of a script for a play that might be put on the stage today. Some biblical narratives do, however, show dramatic features that resemble those presented on the stage. For example there are biblical narratives that have the dramatic effect of addressing readers directly and often challengingly comparable to the way characters on the stage address the audience. For example, the prophet Amos’s speech is presented directly and often he is presented as doing nothing less than...

  4. An Encounter of the Ultimate Kind: Amos
    (pp. 9-24)

    The Book of Amos is a collection of material of different kinds. It is not necessarily in any chronological order and has no clear logical sequence. It often changes perspective. For example, right at the beginning (1:2–3), YHWH roars in Amos’ direct speech in an encounter with the whole earth, while in what follows (1:3ff), Amos is evidently quoting YHWH because the speech is introduced with the ‘messenger formula’, Thus says YHWH’, and continues in a form known as ‘oracles against the nations’, which may contain some traditional material. Sense in the sequence here can be seen, however, because...

  5. Encounter Transferred to the Future John 2:13–22
    (pp. 25-30)

    The scene is set from the beginning. The time is the passover, and the place is Jerusalem, where Jesus goes for the passover. The place is even more particular because the action takes place in thetemple. So the time and the place immediately involve the actors: Jesus and the people. The activity of the place is people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and the money changers working at their tables. It is the kind of place that Amos might have told people not to seek.

    At this point Jesus might be expected to say something, but instead he initiates...

  6. Confrontations over Authority: Matthew 21:23–27; Exodus 17:1–7
    (pp. 31-38)

    Much human life is spent in dramatic encounters. These can take place in quite ordinary conversations, but also in dialogue of different kinds. It might be in a controversy conducted through letters to a newspaper. The claims of some correspondents can lead to resentment from others, sometimes concerning the right people have to do certain things in certain places.

    Matthew 21 begins with a place and with Jesus’ right to do certain things there. It is no less a place than the temple, the place of God’s presence. It is the scene of a drama for coming and meeting. If...

  7. Encounter with Death Changed to Life Genesis 16
    (pp. 39-48)

    The scene begins with Sarai. She may be Abram’s wife, but she has borne him no children, though she does have an Egyptian maid, Hagar. So the very first sentence introduces the main characters, and, since Hagar is a foreign, female dependant, an observer might already wonder how they are going to relate to each other. The first two meetings between Sarai and Abram, and Abram and Hagar seem rather routine and matter of fact, though the second does lead to conflict. The most significant encounter is, however, between the angel and Hagar and it gives her a future that...

  8. An Encounter of Identity and Becoming Genesis 32:22–32;33
    (pp. 49-58)

    The scene is the ford of a river and the time is night. Jacob takes his wives, his maids and his children and crosses this ford of the river Jabbok (sited about twenty miles north of the Dead Sea).¹ The scene of this drama is thus among a company of people on the move just as Hagar and Ishmael had been forced to be on the move. Indeed, if readers look into the background scene of Jacob’s story, they find that the journey begins far away and consists of a whole series of encounters.

    Jacob, running away from a conflict...

  9. An Encounter with Words Jeremiah 36–38
    (pp. 59-78)

    The particularity of Jeremiah 36 – 38 is that, while these chapters present a series of encounters between people, their purpose is to bring the people to an encounter with the word of God. Jeremiah 36 begins with God’s word coming to Jeremiah for the purpose that he convey all he has heard to the people in the hope that they might be forgiven. This precipitates the series of encounters firstly between Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch, between Baruch and the people, various officials, and the king. These encounters cause consternation among some officials, but a cold indifference from the king...

  10. Dialogue, Monologue and Back to Dialogue John 3:1–21
    (pp. 79-88)

    This encounter begins with an unexpected dialogue between Jesus and ‘a man of the Pharisees’. The latter is polite but Jesus takes the dialogue in a different and challenging new direction. The concern is nothing less than new life combining the physical and the spiritual expressed by being ‘born again’. The dialogue is preserved even in the monologue with which this encounter ends; the aim is eliciting response to a transformed life.

    The person who initiates this encounter is introduced immediately and deliberately, and his place in society is given before his name: he is a man of the Pharisees,...

  11. A Clash Between Two Opinions 1 Kings 18:17–46
    (pp. 89-96)

    This passage has some features of dramatic encounter that we have not yet met at least to the same degree. It is the most conflictual in that no punches whatsoever are pulled between Elijah, Ahab and the prophets of Baal and yet, under this surface, the real encounter is between Elijah and the people. The scene around the altars is a boisterous combination of the physical and spiritual and demonstrates the most vividly striking animated action. The outcome is that Elijah shows himself to be an effective agent of God as the source of life.

    The encounter between Elijah and...

  12. A Encounter of Awful Incongruity Genesis 22
    (pp. 97-108)

    This encounter is provocative as never before. It is a provocation enhanced by the very calmness of the scenic directions and in following God’s command against a background of a devastating threat to the promises. When dialogue is introduced, it highlights the significance of the close relationship between the two central human protagonists. It almost comes to a catastrophe, but the tension is broken at the very last minute with Abraham’s responsive involvement in new possibilities for the future of the people.

    ‘After these things . . . ’ What a harmless beginning. There is no indication whatsoever of any...

  13. Encounter as Provocative Question: Mark 3:31–35
    (pp. 109-112)

    This encounter provokes Jesus to choose between his family and the people around him.

    The background scene of this incident is that Jesus has come home and such a crowd gathers that he and his disciples cannot even eat. The matter crucial for the incident to come is that when ‘those about him’, ¹presumably Jesus’ family,² hear about all this publicity, they are not at all pleased and try to getcontrolof him, the word used suggesting they might even be prepared to do it by force (Mark 3:19–21). Jesus is showing them up and they think he...

  14. An Encounter of Extravagant Response John 12:1–8
    (pp. 113-116)

    The places and people forming the scene of this encounter weave in the threads of life and death, and with her extravagant action, Mary prepares for Jesus’ death. An objection to the extravagance causes Jesus to speak in a provocative way that goes beyond conventional morality. With this provocation, Mary’s response to Jesus’ death for later living people comes to the fore.

    There is no doubt on whom the focus is placed at the beginning of this incident. In the story’s original form, the name Jesus is the first main item: ‘Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany’....

  15. An Encounter Through Darkness to Light John 9
    (pp. 117-126)

    The beginning is with an encounter between Jesus and his disciples, ostensibly about sin but raising a question about darkness and light. Jesus giving the blind man sight initiates a series of dialogues between different groups. There is a heightened sense of drama as the dialogues shift from Jesus and the disciples to the blind man and his neighbours, and then to the man and the Pharisees. These dialogues show a growth in character in the man with his provocative witness to the light, culminating in the insight that it is the powerful authorities who are really blind.

    No particular...

  16. An Encounter of Comprehensiveness Psalm 96; Matthew 4:18–22
    (pp. 127-132)

    This Psalm begins with imperatives calling for a comprehensive encounter with God and for a witness to God who is both liberator and creator of all peoples. The call to encounter God cannot be confined but is to a range of peoples in which all creation is involved. Jesus’ call to the disciples has similarly involved people of many different times and places.

    The Psalm begins with a meeting in imperatives: there are six of them in the first three verses.¹ Three of them are a direct summons to people to sing: ‘Sing to YHWH a new song’, which tells...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 133-137)

    The dramatic features of the biblical encounters contribute to the understanding of what the encounters do, and show further that the encounters lead to an unanticipated future.

    Oral delivery is a dramatic feature of encounter that directly addresses an audience. This is especially so as it seems likely that some parts of the Bible were (as argued in the Introduction) originally intended to be read orally rather than silently. Particularly when such an oral delivery presents a confrontation between the protagonists, it is the nature of such an encounter to involve the hearers. In doing so the encounter gives them...

  18. Index of Biblical References
    (pp. 138-140)
  19. Index of Authors
    (pp. 141-142)
  20. Index of Biblical Places
    (pp. 143-143)
  21. Index of Biblical Names
    (pp. 144-146)