Looking Before and After: Testimony and the Christian Life

Looking Before and After: Testimony and the Christian Life

by Alan Jacobs
     
 

In the work of such major theologians as Lesslie Newbigin and Stanley Hauerwas, the “Christian story” is communal, and the individual Christian achieves meaning only through participation in this communally recounted narrative. While Alan Jacobs acknowledges the importance of the communal story, he suggests that something has been neglected in the

Overview

In the work of such major theologians as Lesslie Newbigin and Stanley Hauerwas, the “Christian story” is communal, and the individual Christian achieves meaning only through participation in this communally recounted narrative. While Alan Jacobs acknowledges the importance of the communal story, he suggests that something has been neglected in the development of narrative theology — the narrative dimension of individual Christian lives.

Looking Before and After encourages us to ask how individual lives can, in a specifically Christian sense, be meaningful, how we can discern and rightly interpret those meanings, and how we might tell our own stories in ways that avoid the dangers of presumption and despair. In his typically beautiful writing style, Jacobs here reinvigorates narrative theology and demonstrates the power of individual life stories well told and properly understood.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Richard John Neuhaus
— editor in chief of First Things
"Jacobs is that rare Christian thinker whose faith carries him into the most unlikely encounters with other ways of being in the world, from which he returns to give us reports in prose of enviable grace."

Commonweal
Jacobs’s lectures do not set out a systematic narrative theology; he did not mean them to. What he has done instead is to outline beautifully and with some theoretical depth why it is that, in the words of the old hymn, we ‘love to tell the story.’”
 
Religious Studies Review
“Well-suited for courses on literature and religion, Jacobs’s brief apologia for personal testimony is a welcome contribution to the discussion of the ways in which Christian theology is an ongoing story of the many and the one.”
 
Reviews in Religion & Theology
“The prolific and unfailingly readable Alan Jacobs turns his attention in this slim but weighty book to the genre of Christian testimony. . . . The discussion is always erudite, unpredictable, and wide-ranging, yet harnessed to a clear understanding of what is at stake in his subject matter.”
 
Christianity Today
“’Testimony.’ If you are an evangelical of a certain age, that word will have a powerful resonance for you. It’s fallen out of fashion a bit, in part because we have seen a necessary correction to an excessive emphasis on individual Christian experience. Without dismissing this ‘ecclesiocentric’ turn, Alan Jacobs wants to rehabilitate testimony. ‘What is my story? And how can I tell it?’ That’s the burden of this superb book, a slim volume based on the 2006 Stob Lectures at Calvin College.”
 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802849816
Publisher:
Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date:
05/15/2008
Series:
Stob Lectures 2006 Ser.
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 4.37(d)

Meet the Author

Alan Jacobs is distinguished professor of literature at BaylorUniversity, Waco, Texas. His many other books include Original Sin: A Cultural History, LookingBefore and After: Testimony and the Christian Life,A Visit to Vanity Fair, Shaming theDevil, and The Narnian: The Life andImaginationof C. S. Lewis.

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