Monday, March 23, 2020

Reflection for the Week - March 23

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. Yet, Eco’s suggestion, while helpful, needs to be supplemented by another feature of story. Stories connect actions – narrative creates causal relations between one action and another. Think about this. “She sees a cow in the field” is not a narrative – “she sees a cow in the field and milks it” is.

One last feature of narrative, brought to light by Paul Ricoeur, is time. What is recounted in narrative takes place in time and makes time. Stories have a temporal component that is not to be missed or ignored if we are to better understand them. But surely there are at least a few other important elements of narrative: plot, point of view, characters, intrigue, suspense, and drama. I’d wager all these dimensions require due consideration when reading the biblical stories.