Biblical Storytelling

Here is something new that isn’t really all that new to “try” – biblical storytelling.

I am part of a liturgical biblical storytelling troupe, whose members “tell” the gospel story (or another of the lectionary text) each week during worship.

Biblical Storytelling is reclaiming the ancient practice- when most of the world was illiterate- of telling the stories of the bible. Biblical Storytelling is the rediscovered ancient art of oral performance of the scriptural text. It’s the way the stories of the bible were always intended to be heard — the way they always were heard before they were written down, and even for centuries after that.

There is enough historical evidence and scholarly research to suggest that the stories in the bible were written down in order to be told, not to be read, and certainly not to be read alone — a practice relatively new in the history of communication.

It is interesting to think about the experience of the bible at the oral stage – before it was a book- when no two tellings would have been alike, no two manuscripts would have been the same, and most people would have experienced the bible as an ever changing oral performance or in other media – stained glass, painting, and sculpture. A single meaning of scripture text is a literary cultural construct.

Here is one way to get at internalizing or learning by heart (biblical storytellers don’t use the “m” word) a biblical text:

  1. Read the story through, out loud, to get the sounds of it into the air. Read it again.
  2. Learn the story by repeating one verse or phrase at a time until you are comfortable with it.
  3. Try to tell the story in your own words, striving for an outline and flow of the story.
  4. Stand up and move through the story. Go all the way through, even if you have to make up parts.

Biblical Storytelling is a powerful personal spiritual practice that can lead to a lively and transformative relationship with God.

You can learn more about biblical storytelling at: 
http://www.gotell.org/index.html, http://tracyrad.com/, http://faithandwonder.com/what-is-biblical-storytelling/…, and http://www.nbsint.org/

Paul Lutz, Senior Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale, PA

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