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Thursday, February 28, 2019

FINAL PAPER | The Storiented Bible | The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Storiented Bible

The Greatest Story Ever Told


Darrell Wolfe 

BIBL-1300 Introduction to the Bible 

Spring 2019, Online Session 1 

February 27, 2019 

Table of Contents 


In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Immerse, 2017) John, page 399 

Notice that John begins his gospel by calling Jesus, The Word. We find Words, and the stories they create for us, impact us at a level that is beyond our cognitive ability to understand in the moment. Being caught up in a story can make you lose all sense of present, and be transported to another time and place (and sometimes another world entirely).

Ever since Aristotle observed that stories had a beginning, a middle, and an end, the science of story has been developed and studied. Our modern sensibilities tell us at a gut level whether a story “works” or it doesn’t. We are hard-wired for story, and it is through story that we understand the World around us. It is no accident that God gave us a Bible full of story, as opposed to a user manual or guide (if this, then do that). God has given us His Story, His Narrative, and we are to find our place in it. It is only when we understand The Narrative, The Story, that we are able to accurately interpret our place in that Story, and what God is telling us today.

We Are Wired for Story

There is no “world” for us until we have named and languaged and storied whatever is. Amos Wilder (Paauw, 2016, p. 109)
Our brains are hard-wired for story, and our bodies respond to it. Forbes published an article titled This is Your Brain on Storytelling, in which the author breaks down the neurochemical responses in our brains that create Awareness, Arousal, and Action. They are Cortisol (Awareness), Dopamine (Arousal/Pleasure/Reward), Oxytocin (Call to Action/Empathetic Behavior) (Rodriguez, 2017). 

These chemicals provide us with physiological responses to storytelling and stir us to take actions in response. If I say Frodo, the vast majority of movie-going audiences understand that means a small hobbit from the Shire, going on an epic quest with a band of friends to destroy the One Ring. Many Bible students have read Pilgrim’s progress, an allegorical tale of Christian. Stories stick with us, due in part to these God-given chemical responses in our brains. In her TEDx Talk, Wired for Story, Lisa Cron makes the following observations:

We don’t turn to story to escape reality, we turn to story to navigate reality (TEDxTalks, 2014, p. 11:08)

You are being affected by stories every minute of every day, whether you know it or not. (TEDxTalks, 2014, p. 15:19)

In the Operation Solid Lives (OSL) program, through The Rock Church, Anaheim CA, the Level One class begins with a story about how Jesus was so in love with us, that he paused creation (which up to that moment had been “God said/God saw”) in order to step down and personally create man with his own hands. Then we see him so passionately in love with Enoch that he just took him because God had to have Enoch with Him, to which they conclude “God’s a Tooker!” (OSL, 2009). Throughout the Bible we stop at moments to see hints and reminders that he hasn’t forgotten about his plan to redeem us. It’s as if Jesus is peeking his head around and saying, as a parent to child in a game of hide and seek, “I’m coming!” This class turns the Bible from a series of facts into a living breathing story, and one walks away feeling (not just knowing) that God loves them.

The Bible Is Story

God did not give us a book entitled, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, he gave us a narrative, a story. Glenn Paauw, in his book Saving the Bible from Ourselves, observes:

An ongoing, deep immersion in the Bible will reveal two fundamental things to us: (1) there really are different acts in the drama, so things change, and (2) it really is a single story, so the acts are related to each other and there are abiding patterns that persist over time… God’s intentions are expressed in motifs that persist in drama… Our improvisation of the drama today will look for ways to implement these core redemptive patterns in our specific scene. (Paauw, 2016, p. 128)
Often, in our attempt to “study to show ourselves approved”, we miss the story while we dig into the meaning of particular words, and gather fragments of the Bible together in a hodge-podge of “supporting text” to prove our stance or doctrine is the right one. We subscribe to the verse of the day, and snack on the Bible in little bite sized pieces. We come to Bible study groups and listen to someone else’s ideas about the Bible, and then read their supporting texts. We ask for “proof texts” and “addresses” for the things we say about God and His Word. When we find ourselves in need of support or guidance, we look up key words to see what the Bible has to say about Love, Forgiveness, Hardship, Finances, etc.

But in so doing, we miss the point entirely. We miss the Story God has given us, and out place in that story. But fear not, even thought the Bible was not given to us as a user manual, to look up the answer or instructions to fix a particular problem with a series of “how to”, we were given something much better. A grand Story, a Narrative, and it is through that narrative that we find our place in God’s Word, God’s World, and God’s Will.

We find ourselves actors in a play that has been running for thousands of years, and continues to run until a final climax we have been promised, and we were not left without help.

Paauw addresses this point:

In his wisdom, The Word did not leave us with a script and tell us to figure it out. The Playwright has provided us with some critical aids to help us perform well. We were given the Bible, The Narrative, The Story. We were given the ability to be receptive to our Playwright (God). We were given directors of the play (pastors, leaders, teachers). We were given a cast (friends and family in the Church). (Paauw, 2016, p. 129)

The Stories and The Story section of the Immerse: Messiah New Testament says:

The Bible is a gift. The Creator of all things has entered into our human story, and he has spoken. (Immerse, 2017) Page 483

The Bible Project, in their video The Story of the Bible, summarize:

The Bible is an important book, but it’s really long. It’s a collection of many books written over a long period of time but all together they tell one unified story. (Mackie & Collins, 2014, 2019)
In a typical modern story, we have several common points we have grown to look for intuitively. The Inciting Event is the thing that started all of this madness. It’s the event that set up the dominos. In some cases, it happened long before our character was either born or made aware of it. The Key Event is the moment that the first domino falls, setting off a chain reaction that cannot stop until the end. Throughout the story, there will be disasters and turning points. Finally, the Climax is the moment that ties back to the Inciting and Key events, and it resolves the tension they caused. The Climax is followed by a short Resolution, tying up the loose ends.

  • Genesis chapters 1-2 give us the Inciting Event (Creation of Man) and Key Event (the Fall)
  • Genesis 3 through Jude give us twists, turns, disasters, conflict, awe-inspiring feats, and passionate people.
  • Revelation gives us the Climactic Ending and Resolution.
Paauw goes on to say:

Reading whole books of the Bible functions as the preliminary act to the main event. This is because the biggest thing to do with the Bible is to read its overall story of The Story and to do so with such regularity and in such depth that we can begin to reimagine our personal and community stories as part of its world-restoring drama. This has little to do with the patchwork assemblage of Bible verses we’ve been attempting to survive on. (Paauw, 2016, p. 110)

Interpreting Our Story in The Story

The book of John tells us that The Word (Story) Is God. Story is innate to God’s nature. Therefore, He entered our story and gave us a story to interpret our lives through. It is common to see individual verses quoted and used to justify a host of various actions. In some instances, it is possible to draw the wrong conclusion by pulling a statement from the Bible out of context.

One day, a woman sat with her pastoral counselor and told him that she was having an affair and planning to leave her husband. She said she’d prayed about the situation, and she had scripture to back up her position, and she wanted the pastor’s blessing. Dumfounded, the pastor asked what scripture she had to support this decision. She said, “I prayed for direction, and opened my Bible. It landed on the verse that said ‘put on the new man’, so I did.”.

This humorous story shows an absurd example of how people can often take a single verse and make it say something it does not say. This practice is known as taking the verse “out of context” or “verse jacking”. As a parent to a child, we must say, “Put that back where you found it!” It is only when we understand the context of a verse within its section, book, and the whole Story of the Bible, that we can have a proper understanding of its meaning and application.

In the book, Understanding Scripture, the authors note:
For example, taken together, the reports of Solomon’s reign show gold slowly becoming more prominent, and more highly valued, than wisdom. Solomon spent more on his palace than on the temple, and his adherence to the law steadily declined (1 Kings 4-11). Readers can draw conclusions as they read the reports in canonical perspective. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012, p. 15)

Students of the Bible must locate concepts, not just words, to develop a theme. For example, a concordance search on “pray/prayer/praying” would turn up only one verse in John’s Gospel (John 17:9), but several other verses tell how to “ask” God for various things, and those verses also teach a number of particular lessons about prayer. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012, p. 17)

One can also use outside resources to get a better understanding of The Story. Archeology, for example, helps to illuminate the Bible and the Bible illuminates Archeology (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012, pp. 124-125). We can get a sense of the time and people who lived real lives in real places and faced real struggles. We can feel the sand beneath our sandals, and the cold iron around our wrists in a dark dank dungeon. In Understanding the Bible, the authors conclude:

A fuller understanding of the meaning of the New Testament can be achieved by learning more about the world in which its human authors and recipients lived. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012, p. 132) 


Without understanding the Bible is given to us as Story and understanding our place in that Story, we cannot interpret correctly. We were wired for story in the very nature of our brain chemistry. One cannot always remember the five steps to this or seven habits off that, but one can feel the fire of the mountain as Frodo struggles to fulfill his duty to destroy the One Ring. Lisa Cron concludes her TEDx Talk with this statement:

Never underestimate the power of story. It doesn’t just change how we see some things some of the time; it’s the only thing that changes how we see the world and therefore what we do in the world. All stories are a call to action. (TEDxTalks, 2014, p. 17:05)

The Story of all stories, the greatest story ever told, is The Story of God’s work in creating man, saving man from his fall, redeeming man, and his promise of an ultimate climax and resolution. It’s Jesus’ love letter to us, his passionate pursuit of us, and his promise to return and bring us Shalom.

Grudem, W., Collins, C. J., & Schreiner, T. R. (2012). Understanding Scripture - An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Institute for Bible Reading. (2017). Immerse: The Reading Bible - Messiah. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Retrieved from

Mackie, T., & Collins, J. (2014, 2019). The Story of the Bible. Retrieved from

OSL. (2009). OPERATION: SOLID LIVES (OSL). The Love of God. Anaheim, CA: The Rock Church. Retrieved from

Paauw, G. R. (2016). Saving the Bible from Ourselves. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Rodriguez, G. (2017, July 21). This Is Your Brain On Storytelling: The Chemistry Of Modern Communication. Retrieved from

TEDxTalks. (2014, May 4). Wired for Story. (L. Cron, Performer) Furman University, Greenville, SC. Retrieved from

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Reflection Paper | Understanding Scripture

Reflection Paper

Understanding Scripture

Darrell Wolfe
BIBL-1300 Introduction to the Bible
Spring 2019, Online Session 1
February 13, 2019

Table of Contents

Review: Understanding Scripture

This is a review of the text, Understanding Scripture (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012). The authors provide the backdrop for making their case:
To profit from Scripture, one must take the right posture. At one extreme, the skeptic questions and judges whatever he/she reads. At the other, the overconfident believer, convinced he has mastered the biblical or systematic theology, ignores or explains away whatever fails to support his system. Interpreters should come to Scripture humbly, expecting to learn and be corrected and willing to observe Scripture closely and accept whatever they find. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012), Pg 12
They go on to lay out several key items to contemplate as we embark on this journey of discovery in the greatest story ever told.

The Narrative: The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Narrative refers to the on-going story that began In the Beginning and rolls right through Abraham, Jesus, Paul, and Me. The Bible, in large part, is handed to us as a narrative. The meaning of the “verse” one attempts to use to justify their position must fit within the overall context of The Narrative; and, it must mean to the original author/participants in that story what it means to you. We are part of that on-going story. The application we take away must be within the context of that larger story.

Did I Read That Right?

Before one can study, one must read The Narrative as it was provided. It is within this framework that the meanings can be gathered. Understanding the literary style is also important. The Bible can be read as Historical, Literature (including the Literary Style), and Communion with the Author Himself. Depending on the mindset you come to the Bible with, this affects Application and Teaching. Also, to be considered, Literal vs Allegory. Some find hidden meanings while others take the text at face value. The Literary Style should help us determine what approach we take for any given book or section. One should take the instruction to love our neighbor literally but not assume that a literal Dragon was coming to eat a woman’s child (Revelation). Genre matters.

Fire the Cannon

The manuscripts we have today are reliable. That is covered in great depth in the texts. The variety, age, and abundance of older manuscripts allow us to see that the text we have is reliable and is exactly what the authors wrote for us to read. Archeology does serve to reinforce the Historicity of the Bible (confirming events, names, and dates); however, it serves a more intricate purpose as well. Archeology paints the picture of the times and customs of the people we read about. That context allows us to immerse ourselves in the story, feel the sand beneath our sandals and in between our toes, and feel the upper room’s cold night air.

Lost in Translations

One of the reasons there are so many translations is that so many translators do the important work of helping us read the original language in our Modern English. I speak a modicum of Spanish. One day, in class, I said “Estoy Caliente’”, literally “I am (temporarily) hot”. My teacher corrected, with a big grin, “No. No. No, Senior Wolfe. Hace Calor”, meaning “it is presently hot”. Apparently, “Estoy Caliente’” in the culture has an entirely different connotation, “I am Hot (Horny/Attractive)”. This very simple misunderstanding is a humorous example of how easily one can mess up language-to-language translation. It is not enough to translate words, one must translate ideas and concepts in culturally accurate ways. In this same way, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin, and other Biblically related languages (as they relate to manuscripts we possess) must be translated, and not simply transliterated.

The New Testament Makes Sense

Why not stop with the Old Testament. The Cannon of the Old Testament was largely firmed up by the time of Jesus. It was the Scriptures he referred to often “as it is written”. So why have a New Testament at all? Throughout the old covenant, God was promising a coming Messiah and new revelation. It follows then, as a continuation of The Narrative, that a new set of texts would be handed to us to preserve those steps in The Narrative. The New Testament makes sense because it is a continuation of the story. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012) Pg 82


It is often the case today (and has been true since at least the Church Growth Movement of the 70s), sermons can be nothing more than Three Points, a Reader’s Digest Story, and a Joke… with a few supporting scriptures. The authors have the following to say about that:
The preacher must preach the text, not the idea that brought him to the text. He must stand behind the Bible, not in front of it. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012) Pg 64-65
This more common type of modern preaching leads to another issue: Verse Jacking.

Take Aways

Verse Jacking!

What is Verse Jacking? This is taking a set of hand-picked verses completely out of context, running them together as “proof” that your position is sound and “Biblical”. This is where your inner parent must come out, “Put that back where you found it!” If the verse doesn’t mean that in context, in The Narrative, and to the original author; it does not mean that to you.

Many Churches, Conflicting Ideas – Firmly held beliefs in conflict.

Due to Verse Jacking, we’ve got thousands of denominations. Every group has their corner staked out on The Truth. Although it’s true that we know in part while on this earth, and “they” may be seeing something I haven’t seen yet; it is also true that they may be Verse Jacking to create a position that God himself doesn’t hold.

Wrestling with Ideals

My own turmoil trying to wrestle with conflicting ideals stems from a life long search for The Truth. Over the years, I’ve moved from Christian group to Christian group in search of the most authentic, real, true, relationship with Jesus I can have. As a function of this search, I picked up many firmly held beliefs that I’ve since come to realize weren’t True. They were supported with Bible verses; however, they were not actually Biblical.

Resolution: The Narrative Context

With that in mind, here are some things I now realize will help me on the next phase of my journey.
·         Proverbs are not TRUE, they are generally true. Just because a proverb says that the upright will be successful, doesn’t mean that all people who do right will never have a tragedy. It does, however, indicate that on trend the upright fair well on principle. Proverbs 2:7-8 ((NIV))
·         Where does that verse belong? If it didn’t mean that to the author it doesn’t mean that to you. Put it back where you found it and see what it means inside The Narrative. Only then can you determine what it means.

·         Any doctrine must be firmly based on the whole Bible, a thread neatly woven into The Narrative. When speaking about the variety of manuscripts and differences of interpretation, the authors of this text indicate that on rare instance you may come to find that a particular verse wasn’t saying what you thought it said.  This includes, especially, End Times Prophecy. To this point, they write:
At times, a particular doctrine may not, after all, be affirmed in a given passage, depending on the textual variant. But this is not the same thing as saying that such a doctrine is denied. Just because a particular verse may not affirm a cherished doctrine does not mean that that doctrine cannot be found in the New Testament. In the final analysis, no cardinal doctrine, no essential truth, is affected by any viable variant in the surviving New Testament manuscripts. (Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner, 2012) Pg 116-117

With these tools in hand, I can continue my journey to find the most authentic relationship with Jesus, His Father, His Holy Spirit, and His Word.


(NIV), N. I. (n.d.). Proverbs 2:7-8. Retrieved from
Grudem, W., Collins, C. J., & Schreiner, T. R. (2012). Understanding Scripture - An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Gospel of Luke:

Jesus was in the temple asking questions, his parents had been clueless and lost him. But he went home, was obedient to them, and grew in favor...

As I read that story, I was reminded of what it was like to grow up with a high IQ and more wisdom than average...

I realized, as I was meditating on this story, that God will ask you to submit to authority that often doesn't understand you and may not even be as intelligent as you... But submit you must if you will find maturity and favor.

How often do we buck authority because we think we know better?

Submission brings maturity and favor that all the intellect in the world can't bring.


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Monday, February 4, 2019

Reflection Paper

Saving the Bible from Ourselves

Darrell Wolfe
BIBL-1300 Introduction to the Bible
Spring 2019, Online Session 1
January 30, 2019

Table of Contents
  • Review: Saving the Bible.. 3
  • We Complicated the Bible. 3
  • We Lost the History, Context, Story, and Narrative. 4
  • We Lost the Community. 4
  • We Lost the Elegance and Beauty. 4
  • The Take Away.. 5
  • I’m a Student. 5
  • I’m a Storyteller. 5
  • I’m a Solo-Artist (no longer). 6
  • Bibliography.. 7

Review: Saving the Bible

This is a review of the text, Saving the Bible from Ourselves (Paauw, 2016). Paauw begins by diagnosing a strongly felt problem throughout the Church in Western Culture. He summarizes it as follows:
“But we are also assured that even if we spend only a few minutes in the morning, we’re sure to find the spiritual gem to get us through. The Bible will brighten our day, encourage us and strengthen us, if only we will faithfully open it – even if just for a few moments. Those ‘Scriptures’ – which more typically refer to presorted sentences and snippets – are said to be powerful. And Yet. We know there is more to the story than the official line… The ‘and yet’ comes down to this: There is more guilt about secret non-compliance with Bible-reading standards in the self-proclaimed Bible-believing community than there is gratitude for promises realized.” (Paauw, 2016), 14-15.
With this simple statement, he accurately defines a problem I’ve lived with my entire Christian life. Paauw then goes on to describe the reasons for this problem in more detail.

We Complicated the Bible

The Bible we know today has chapters, verses, headers, commentary, footnotes, cross references, blurbs of insight, photos, graphs, and maps… to name a few. But exactly none of these are from the original copies of the Great Book. The books of the Bible were written as texts, poems, letters, histories, stories, and revelations. These additives have hidden the real Bible from us, underneath layers of items that are helpful for Study but not for daily Reading. The result has been the average reader taking a “verse” as having read “scripture”. However, these books were intended to be read as any other book. Start on page one, and read forward.
We Lost the History, Context, Story, and Narrative

As a result of these additives and the “versification” of the Bible, we’ve lost the stories being told, the context and audience, the history of a real people in real places, the ongoing non-stop narrative flowing from Adam to Abraham to Jesus to Paul to Me.

We Lost the Community

The Bible was originally digested, primarily, in public gatherings. The original church didn’t have a book to hand to each person. Scrolls and codices were kept in safe places, and read publicly in large readings. Whole letters and books (or sections of the books) were read to those in attendance, and then they were discussed as a group. Pastoral leaders added insights and kept the conversation on track. Messages were given ad-hoc based on the texts read. This stands in stark contrast to our practices today, one verse from here and another from there, packaged as though they went together as stand-alone statements; all while reading them alone in pre-packaged apps or devotionals. We are each left to interpret as we will, without the benefit of community input.

We Lost the Elegance and Beauty

One of the subtle items we’ve lost is the elegance of the Bible. This is a combined book of Histories, Stories of Greatness, Poetry, Songs, and more. By having standard block text formatting with the insertion of chapters and verses, much of this is lost on the reader; even if they do try to read whole books or sections (as I have). Paauw proposes a new look that takes each of these literary styles, and brings them to light in a new formatting for modern English readers.

The Take Aways

I’m a Student.

I have often read whole books of the Bible and read the entire Bible through several times. I’ve spent months in a single book. I’ve even spent the last several years reading and re-reading the book of Job. Therefore, I appreciate what’s lost eating in verse-fragments as we so often do in our culture. However, that’s all study. It’s tearing down sentences to the root-words and looking for context and meaning. What I haven’t done is simply pick up the Bible and read (as I would a novel). As a result of reading this text, I ordered the Immerse: Messiah New Testament (Institute for Bible Reading, 2017). This is a project that Paauw himself worked on, as a response to the challenges he laid out in his text. I’m also having my kids read their own copies, and gave a few to friends.

I’m a Storyteller.

Throughout my life, one thread has weaved its way through my many adventures: I am a Storyteller. I enjoy story. The art of storytelling is the back-bone of every great movie, book, TV Ad, or Speech. When good stories are told, they capture the imagination. I’ve forgotten most of the 10-steps to this or 7-habits of that… but I can still feel the heat of Mordor as Frodo battles with himself to let go of the One Ring. This text was a fabulous reminder that I am part of an ongoing story myself. It began with my Father, Adam. It continued throughout history through men and women, great and small, and led directly to my bedroom, where I was saved at three years old; asking Jesus for Wisdom just like Solomon did.

I’m a Solo-Artist (no longer).

Finding community is a new challenge for me. As a fairly extreme introvert, INFJ (Briggs, 1920), I find myself constantly “in my head”. If I don’t have mass amounts of quality quiet time to process all of my thoughts, I begin to feel fatigued and overwhelmed. However, I allowed this knowledge of myself (and some unhealthy dynamics with my late-wife) to become excuses for hibernation. I went to work, church, and home. I spent decades without real human interaction outside of the home. This came to a head at the end of 2016 in Fort Worth Texas, when I suffered a nervous breakdown (mid-life crises some call it). My road to recovery began as a challenge to God. I couldn’t attend any of the men’s bible studies as they conflicted with my schedule. I told God I’d go if a 9 pm start time was posted. It was posted the next week. 

At Rudy’s Bible study, we would read a whole chapter from a New Testament book, then discuss what each of us got out of it. I was shocked to realize, while reading Paauw’s text, that this was essentially the format of the original Church. I’ve subsequently ordered two more copies and sent them back to Rudy and Eric (the leaders of that group). Since moving to Idaho, my isolationist tendencies have been challenged in new ways. I’m finding community once more. But this was a strong reminder that I need community and community Bible reading, and a challenge to maybe start my own 9 pm group here… we shall see.

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @


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