22 February 2016
Watch now: Public Lecture with Rikk Watts
On a hot Tuesday night, 2 February, around 120 people attended a guest lecture at Laidlaw by Rikk Watts, the Professor of New Testament at Regent College, who spoke on “Why the Narrative Shape of the Gospels Matters”. He covered four main points: a range of introductory material about the Gospel narratives themselves; how Jesus was the climax of Israel’s story; a renewed way of reading the Old Testament, leading to a ‘high’ view of Jesus’ divinity; and a plea for a new kind of Christian theology based around narrative structure as well as content.
For scholars and lay alike, Rikk laid out a wide range of material about the Gospels, their structures and their probable origins. One startling observation was that Jesus himself (rather than the traditional authors or sources) may have been the origin for a number of the narrative themes or ideas, such as the ‘exodus journey’ theme in Mark. He also gave a number of examples of how Old Testament events such as creation, the exodus, Sinai, and the festivals could be seen coming through in the Gospels. One suggested question to ask of the New Testament text was “where have I seen something like this before?” looking both for similarities and important differences. In doing this, he argued that we see an astonishingly ‘high’ view of Jesus, of Jesus as the equivalent of Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament and the Jewish faith. He also urged a return to a more story-based approach to theology generally, seeking to find again the character of our God through the Gospels’ stories about him.
The presentation was filmed, and you can view it below.