Friday, November 13, 2009

The Bible and Storytelling

Editor's Note: This week has been busy, so I've asked one of my characters, Pastor Wayne Hiller, to write today's article. So, while I rest, please enjoy this post.

The Ten Stories in the Bible

Before we get into what I have to say, let me just say that you ought not to believe him when he says he’s resting. Timothy and I have discussed this topic extensively and even as I type these words, I feel as though he is right here with me. Perhaps that’s because he’s looking over my shoulder. But on to our topic.

I want to talk about the ten stories you will find in the Bible. I hope that you’ve read the Bible at some point in your life. With that assumption, I know that you’re aware that there are more than ten stories in the Bible. If all you do is read Hebrews 11, you’ll find more than ten stories mentioned, but if you consider the stories that we tell, we can classify them in about ten different stories. I’ll use the labels the late Blake Snyder gave them because they are so descriptive, but others have classified them differently and have called them different things. Blake Snyder called these stories, Monster in the House, Golden Fleece, Out of the Bottle, Dude with a Problem, Rites of Passage, Buddy Love, Whydunit, Fool Triumphant, Institutionalized and Superhero. All stories fall into one of these categories, with no exceptions, and we find more than one example of each of these in the Bible. Let’s look at an example of each.

The Monster in the House stories is about a character facing a monster he can’t get away from because of a sin he or someone else committed. Jonah and the whale is a prime example of this story. The monster is the great fish God prepared. The house is the boat his is owe. The sin is that Jonah refused to do what God commanded.

A Golden Fleece story is about a quest to find or accomplish something. We can look to the story of Abraham or of Moses to find an example of this story. They both made a quest to for the promised land.

Out of the Bottle is about a wish that comes true, but the character learns a lesson because it doesn’t happen like he hoped. We go to the account of how Saul sought the help of a witch from Endor for this example. Saul asks for Samuel to be brought back and much to the witch’s surprise, Samuel shows up, but Samuel isn’t happy and tells Saul that the kingdom will be taken from him.

When an ordinary person has a problem through no fault of his own, the story is likely a Dude with a Problem story. A Bible example of this story is Gideon and the battle he fault. We can also look at Daniel and the lion’s den.

Rites of Passage are about a character headed in the wrong direction experiencing things that change his life and turn him in the right direction. When Joseph went to Egypt, he experienced a rite of passage. He wasn’t liked by his brothers or many other people, for that matter, but he got some valuable experience and he became the prime minister of Egypt.

Almost any love story can be classified as Buddy Love. Of course we would include such stories like that of Ruth and Boaz, but we would also include the story of David and Jonathan.

You might not expect to find a Whydunit in the Bible, but take a look at Joshua’s second battle in the promised land. They had just defeated Jericho, a great walled city, but when they went up at against the little village of AI, they ended up turning their tails and running. You might ask why and if you read the rest of the story, you’ll find out.

The Fool Triumphant story has an example in that of David and Goliath. Everyone thought David a fool to face Goliath, from the king to his brothers to Goliath himself, but as is the case in these stories, David knew something they didn’t and he came away victorious.

The good of the many outweighs the good of the one, or so is the claim of the Institutionalized story. By coming together and sacrificing for the goals of the group, we can accomplish great things. Need an example from the Bible? Look at the Book of Acts. The early churches worked together, often at great sacrifice and we have all benefited from it today.

Lastly, we see the Superhero story. The superhero has some special power that makes him better than everyone else, but he is opposed by others. Often he faces a villain, but he is also an outcast among the people he tries to help. The are plenty of examples in the Bible, but none greater than that of Jesus himself. He came into the world to save it, but the world rejected him.

Keep looking and you’ll find many other examples of the ten stories in the Bible. Read the Gospel of Luke and you’ll find how Jesus used these stories in his own storytelling. What better way to learn to tell stories than to look at how the master storyteller did it?

Editor’s Note: Wayne is the narrator from How to Become a Bible Character and is a recurring character as he is on staff at the church in each book after that.