Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Narrative Theology Unlike other theological movements in the last third of the twentieth century – such as process, feminist, and various liberation theologies – narrative theology is not so much a coherent, identifiable school or movement as it is a theme. Narrative has become a prominent topic for discussion not just in theology, ethics, biblical studies, homiletics, pastoral care, and Christian education, but also in psychology and psychotherapy, philosophy, literary studies, anthropology, law, and medicine. And in addition to the attention it has garnered in the academy, narrative has also drawn the attention of practising religious communities both within and outside Christianity. Rarely has a single theme attracted such widespread interest.
There are many factors in the emergence of narrative as a theme in theology. During the last thirty years of the twentieth century questions about identity – personal, racial/ethnic, cultural, and ecclesial – surfaced in both Churches and society. In North America and western Europe some theologians struggled with the question of the meaning of Christian identity in a post-Christian and postmodern world. Many racial/ethnic groups, women, and Christians in non-western communities rejected White, male, North American and western European interpretations of Christian faith and began to explore new paradigms for doing theology.
Additionally, biblical scholars and theologians recognized the limitations of historical criticism and the importance of reading biblical texts in the ecclesial contexts in which they originated and have their primary function.