Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Looking before and After

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Looking before and After

Article excerpt

LOOKING BEFORE AND AFTER by ALAN JACOBS Eerdmans, 114 pages, $12

In the opening pages of Looking Before and After, Alan Jacobs makes the bold claim that Christians are obliged to make their own Uves into stories- "but," he adds, "we are obliged to do 'improperly."

Jacobs is an expert at the art of evaluating fictional literature, and here he extends his talent to the evaluation of "life genres." The book is addressed to proponents of narrative theology, whom the author suggests have focused almost exclusively on the communal life of the Church at the cost of neglecting the "narrative dimension of individual Christian Uves." At the same time, Jacobs is quick to note that the updated OED tellingly marks the word testimony as obsolete or archaic- "except in Evangelical circles." In response, he wants to help evangelicals use testimony more responsibly and intelligendy as a mode of narration, to reconnect it with Christian dieology as its "moral and intellectual source. …

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