Although this is the second of two books on the role of tradition, it has been written in such a way that it can easily be read as a self-contained volume, with a somewhat different theme: discipleship. In its predecessor, Tradition and Imagination, I worked on a rather larger canvass. 1 Current debates between modernism and postmodernism, the significance of other religions, the function of myth in the classical world, and changing attitudes to revelation, all played their part in shaping how I suggested we perceive the relation between the Bible and the Church's subsequent history. So far from setting them in opposition to one another, I argued that a developing tradition needed to be seen as the motor that kept both engines running, and thus granted the Church the potential to respond effectively to changing social conditions. Revelatory insights were thus by no means to be confined to the canonical dispensation, but instead God must be seen as continuing to speak equally across the subsequent two millennia.
This was not intended to suggest inevitable progress. There is no escaping the admission that, from the perspective of the later community, both Bible and Church can alike be seen at times to err. Not infrequently, it will be insights from the biblical period that provide the most effective critique of what comes later. That aspect, however, has received little mention here, not because I deem the matter unimportant but because it is already a well-worn theme in the writings of numerous theologians. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the less familiar implication, the ability of the developing tradition to modify and sometimes even 'correct' its biblical roots. Because Christianity lays claim to an historical revelation, the temptation is to suppose that only what is firmly grounded in its historical past could be relevant or true, whereas it is precisely the contention of this volume and its predecessor that,