Recently I was sent an advanced reader copy of the Blue Parakeet , and although I’ve been manically busy I finally managed to finish it last night. My initial reaction was I much preferred the second half of the book to the first half. Let me develop my htoughts on that.
Scot McKnight has written the book to challenge how we read the Bible, and especially, it seemed to me, how much of the Bible we take as literal rules forever and ever, and how much we try and discredit due to society and context. That concept is great – what is for 2008, and what was for 60CE – challenging the way we pick’n’mix our Bible passages.
The slightly random title: the Blue Parakeet comes from an event in McKnight’s garden. He enjoys bird watching, and one day was slightly surprised to see a blue parakeet alongside the other birds in his garden one day. He describes how it represents those passages of scripture that we would rather ignore or avoid or put in to a tradition rather than truly engage with.
The first section of the book looks at ‘What is the Bible’ and looks at how we read it and how we understand it. McKnight writes about how the Bible is a Wiki-Story:
the ongoing reworking of the biblical Story by new authors so they can speak the old story in new ways for their day
It makes sense but the chapters that centred on that felt hard work and didn’t really flow for me. The simply gist was that we should engage with the story, not with individual aspects, e.g. laws or blessings and promises. He summarises the Story as:
1. God and creation
2. Adam and Eve as Eikons who crack the Eikon
3. God’s covenant community, where humans are restored to God, self, others, and the world
4. Jesus Christ, who is the Story and in whose story we are to live
5. the church as Jesus’ covenant community
6. the consummation, when all the designs of our Creator God will finally be realized forever and ever
The book then picks up the pace as it looks at how we read the story, and how we apply the story. Here McKnight challenges us to:
listen to God so we can can love him more deeply and love others more completely
Certainly something I would want to highlight to the young people I work with.
The last section uses the role of women in the church as a test-case. This was something I studied a reasonable amount when doing my Theology degree at Exeter University. This was where I got more excited about what McKnight was saying and doing (maybe that is more to do with me than the book – I like to ground theology in application). He took the differing views of women in the church and argued what the overall picture of the Bible is, and how we give more power to certain verses than the others. He works through the evidence (whilst in summary fashion due to the size of the book) in a very logical and clear way. He concludes that the difficult passages argue:
silence only for women who have not yet been taught
The book is a challenge to the way we lazily read the Bible, to the way we miss the big picture. The second half of the book was particularly helpful in this and it reminded me of the challenges and discussions in my New Testament Ethics module. Go get a copy of it, when it comes out in the UK and be challenged.