Stories are the most basic mode of human communication. Writers, painters, sculptors, artists, and indeed, people of all walks of life live by the telling of their stories. Christianity itself is deeply rooted in storytelling – the vast majority of the Hebrew Scriptures, for example, consist of stories, and Jesus proclaimed and taught about the Reign of God through stories and parables. At the heart of the Christian faith are stories, not concepts, propositions, or ideas.
In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts laments the fact that Christian theology is all too often expressed in terms of abstract systems of concepts and ideas, and offers an alternative way of addressing the substance of Christian faith through narrative rather than abstraction. Through stories, both biblical and non-biblical, the author offers a bold and invigorating rethinking of the task of the modern Christian theologian.
1. In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts
2. Story Is the Matrix of Theology
3. Theology Rewrites Stories
4. Stories Rectify Theology
5. The Theological Power of Stories
6. In Search of Our Roots
7. Stories within a Story
8. Stories Are Culturally Distinctive
9. Stories Can Be Theologically Interactive
10. The Bible, Stories, and Theology
Endorsements and Reviews
A consummate storyteller, C.S. Song has been at the leading edge of contemporary Christian theology for several decades now. This latest work is essential reading for anyone who has grown weary of systematic formulations. Song’s faithful narrative is a story well told.
James Treat, University of Illinois
C.S. Song has been a consistent and prolific writer of story theology. He has given us rich material over the years. Here is more. His work is brilliant, imaginative, metaphorical, instructive, and faithful.
Archie Smith Jr., Pacific School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
C.S. Song the Griot chants with the entrancing cadence of an old-hand peddler of tales. Storytelling is a human practice of meaning-making, he reminds us, and through webs of stories we catch potent expressions of divine mystery and human struggle. Uninvested in cultural-linguistic expositions for narrative classification and hermeneutic regulation, Song simply invites readers/listeners into story worlds across time and cultures so that we may live into the fantastical nature of God-talk and human-talk.
Mai-Anh Le Tran, Eden Theological Seminary, St Louis
In my view, In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts is a fascinating book which succeeds in inscribing religious elements and re-conceptualizing fundamental themes into a new, interdisciplinary approach which can encapsulate religious studies into many other theories, disciplines and emerging subfields like narrative studies. It is the kind of exceptional book that can contribute to renew the discipline of religious studies and bring new directions … This is undoubtedly the most refreshing book in religious studies I have read in years.
Yves Laberge, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2
C.S. Song’s work is a fascinating journey through the stories of many lands and cultures. Like a grand storyteller for the ages, the author weaves tale after tale to explain his story theology. … In short, In The Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts is a must read, especially for those who are curious about doing theology through stories.
Ken A. Jung, in Reviews in Religion & Theology, Vol 20, Issue 2