Storytelling has been the primary tool of the passage of information, legacy, tradition, custom, and even universal truth throughout the ages. I've been reading the 1874 classic "The Life of Christ" by Frederic Farrar as the last essay of my 2 year ministry course (It's called Freedom Training Centre if you're interested.) The single most fascinating aspect I found is the fact that it feels like a story being told with the language, poetic flow and flavor of the day.
One passage that jumped out at me was when describing the young Jesus at the temple:
“Even as there is one hemisphere of the lunar surface on which, in its entirety, no human eye has ever gazed, while at the same time the moon's librations enable us to conjecture of its general character and appearance, so there is one large portion of our Lord's life respecting which there is no full record; yet such glimpses are, as it were, according to us of its outer edge, that from these we are able to understand the nature of the whole. Again, when the moon is in crescent, a few bright points are visible through the telescope upon its unilluminated part; those bright points are mountain peaks, so lofty that they catch the sunlight. One such point of splendour and majesty is revealed to us in the otherwise unknown region of Christ's youthful years, and it is sufficient to furnish us with a real insight into that entire portion of His life. In modern language we should call it an anecdote of the Saviour's confirmation.”
Not entirely new revelation, just a bit more interesting in the light of our current knowledge that nearly 100 years later, Apollo 8’s astronauts would see the dark side of the moon with their own eyes in '68. In the next chapter, when talking about the little known years of Jesus youthful years in Nazareth
“SUCH, then, is the “solitary floweret out of the wonderful enclosed garden of the thirty years, plucked precisely there where the swollen bud, at a distinctive crisis, bursts into flower.” But if of the first twelve years of His human life we have only this single anecdote, of the next eighteen years of His life we possess no record whatever save such as is implied in a single word. The word occurs in Mark vi. 3: “Is not this the carpenter?”
Farrar’s quote is referencing Rudolf Stier in his 12 volume work “The words of the Lord Jesus.” Stier was a German Protestant and Mystic, noted for writing a new edition of Martin Luther's Catechism and a translation of the Bible based on the writings of Luther. He was another man, telling another story in another era, paying homage to yet ANOTHER era.
But this hasn’t stopped today either. Let’s even take the scripture that Farrar goes on to extrapolate some deep meaning out of, regarding the early life of Jesus in Mark 6:3. In 1993, Eugene Peterson turn the Bible world on its head by releasing the New Testament as, “The Message.” It’s official name is actually “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.” It’s an known as an idiomatic translation of the original languages of the Bible; idiomatic meaning “words that have a figurative meaning owing to its common usage.” It’s a story.
Peterson tells the Mark 6:3 story this way:
1-2 He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”3 But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.4-6 Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.
It's a very special thing to share in someone else's perspective of an un-changing gospel which we all share. It reminds me that neither of us are, "right" but instead, each hold a slice of understanding... and we need each other. The word of God was made to live inside us and come out of us. You can tell that Farrar had it living inside of him and longed to tell the story... and he did it very very well.