§ Alan Jacobs and the Reticence of the Bible
Jacobs writes in his latest newsletter:
“I’ve also been thinking lately about how the Bible tells stories. Erich Auerbach famously said that the biblical narratives are “fraught with background,” with so much that matters but is unspoken. (For example, what does Abraham think when God tells him to sacrifice his son?) Robert Alter calls this the “reticence” of biblical story, and while both of them were referring to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament can be reticent too. So in response to that reticence I’ve been telling a few small stories of my own: one, two, three.”
There are moments between the text that require the imagination of the reader to see the humanity of the text. The phrase, the reticence of the text, struck me as I read it, along with Jacobs’ own stories linked above. Over the years I have tried to look into the text with my imagination, and akin to Jacobs, here are a few of my own attempts to see the humanity of the text:
§ Art and the Reticence of the Bible: Rembrandt
Rembrandt is one of my favorite artists. Other than an art history course at A&M, my first introduction at length was Nouwen’s meditation on The Return of the Prodigal Son. What a book.
I recently discovered Art Twitter, and have really enjoyed seeing sketches, studies and etchings from @ArtistRembrandt that give image to the biblical text, helping us look into history and think of the background.
I have been drawn to the use (and absence) of detail in these sketches. They are really stunning. Here are a few for you to see:
The Return of the Prodigal Son:
(I posted this on instagram and my friend shared a quote from Peter Brown quoting Augustine: “The Father of the prodigal son ‘falls on his shoulders.’ It is Christ placing his yoke on the Christian, and in a flash we see the incident as Rembrandt would see it; every line of the heavy figure of the old man charged with meaning.”)
Jesus writing in the sand when approached with the woman caught in adultery:
Pilate presenting Jesus before the people:
Christ being removed from the cross:
§ Books to check out
I’ve spent the last two months planning the curriculum for the second year of our TVCI Residency Program. That means I’ve been scouring tables of contents, calculating page counts and trying to refine learning outcomes. I’m really excited and hopeful for the conversations we get to have with our incoming class of Residents.
Along the way I’ve come across some resources that I couldn’t fit into our curriculum this year (or I’m waiting for them to be published). Posting them here for you (and as a reminder to myself to read them).
The Pastor in the Secular Age, Andrew Root / Podcast Interview with Root: The Pastor Writer
In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World, Jake Meador
Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, Andrew Peterson
Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction, Bartholomew and Goheen
§ A Must Listen: This Cultural Moment
The current task of discipleship involves the process of awakening to cultural narratives and anti-gospels presented by modernity, and confronting their impact in our own lives with the true narrative of the Gospel of Christ. It’s an awareness of the history of redemption, of which we stand in the same timeline that Paul stood as he spoke with authority to an unbelieving culture in his day.
To this end, cue the podcast, This Cultural Moment, hosted by Mark Sayers and John Mark Comer.
This is a must listen for what it means to interact with a post-Christian society. These conversations are incredibly helpful. Go ahead, start listening.
Come mid-August, the environments I work with are ramping back up for the school year, and this series will move to being posted at the end of the month. As always, I’d love to hear from you on twitter if you want to interact. Thanks for reading.