Engaging and inspiring the listener

A Thought for Today

“The earthquake was oddly localised. The jail was badly shaken, but not the jailer’s home nearby. If the jail, one of the most strongly built structures in town was seriously damaged, we could expect a home built of unreinforced mud brick to collapse completely.

This is typical of the writer of Luke and Acts. He is telling a good story to make a point. The facts, whatever they really were in this case, have been moulded into a coherent narrative, designed to engage and inspire the listener.

When I was doing some introductory New Testament study as part of my lay preacher training, I did an exercise of trying to match up the accounts of Paul’s voyages in Acts – written sometime after Paul’s death – with the various letters that Paul wrote. I was frustrated that I couldn’t make the sequence and dates for the journeys line up. The writer of Acts had taken the basic facts and harmonised them into a logical order… which is fine.

The purpose of many gospel accounts is to convey meaning, rather than a set of historical facts.

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From the sermon – What must I do? – 12 May 2013
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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