Monday, March 27, 2017

Reflection for the Week - March 27

Recent questions revolving around ‘what is history?’ have given rise to this. What is narrative? Umberto Eco, of The Name of the Rose fame, suggests that to tell a story or write a narrative you have to construct a world.

On this view, Genesis is not merely information, but a created story world – of course, in my perspective related to, but distinct from the real world. Yet, Eco’s suggestion, while helpful, needs to be supplemented. Stories also connect actions – narrative creates causal relations between one action and another. Think about this. “God sees a cow in the field” is not a narrative – “God sees a cow in the field and milks it” is. Another feature of narrative, brought to light by Paul Ricoeur, is time. What is recounted in narrative takes place in time and makes time. Thus, a temporal dimension is not to be missed or ignored if we are to better understand stories. But right, there are at least a few other important elements of narrative: plot, point of view, characters, intrigue, suspense, drama, audience-reader; all of the above require due consideration when reading stories, including those in early Genesis.