Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creativity in the Bible: My Review of WORD PICTURES by Brian Godawa

I love reading a book that drives me back to the Bible, wanting to read it more and with an eye for something specific. WORD PICTURES by Brian Godawa is one such book. Brian Godawa is a Hollywood screenwriter and a Christian writer and speaker. Because I love stories and creativity, I was really interested in a creative professional's look into the most creative elements of the Bible. WORD PICTURES is an exploration of the 70% of the Bible that is made up of stories, metaphors, imagery, and other creative elements, and shows how God as Creator has chosen to communicate to people with both propositional truth and imagery and storytelling. In fact, the majority of the propositional truths in the Bible are located in the midst of narrative. Propositional truth appeals to our intellect; imagery appeals to our hearts. God wants to affect both in us to draw us closer to him and transform us into a reflection of the image of Jesus.

Godawa chronicles his personal journey from being convinced that propositional truth was the only way to interact with God to understanding that God communicates in a variety of creative ways, and all of these are used throughout the Bible. He looks at the way Christians have typically pitted word against image in communicating truth and shows how the Bible doesn't place word above image, but uses both to communicate. Of course, words are often required to elaborate on the meaning of image, but this merely shows that great communication requires both. Just think about how much more something captures your attention when it is illustrated with a story or image. For example, in the Bible Nathan tells David a story to paint a picture of his sin rather than just confronting him with it.

Godawa also shows how the use of storytelling, metaphor, symbols, etc. is a subversive way to interact with culture and expose people with the truth about Jesus. His exploration of Paul's encounter with the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill in Acts 17 was my favorite part of the book.

WORD PICTURES is very theologically orthodox, and it is a fresh look at God's communication to us through the Bible. It's one of the best books I think I've ever read, and it will be one I'll go to again and again.

I received this book for free for review from Intervarsity Press

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