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Who in the Bible are you? Y

By Diane L. Jacobson

ou have undoubtedly noticed that Jesus teaches most oſt en through parables. Have you

also noticed that when Jesus does this, you are invariably drawn to and identify with one of the characters? Sometimes you are the prodigal son and sometimes the elder brother. At times you aspire to be the good Samaritan, and other times you know yourself to be the wounded man fallen by the wayside. T rough the parables, Jesus

teaches us that stories matter. Stories draw us in by naming our sins and giſt s, shining a light of recogni- tion and calling us to be what God intends us to be. As you’ve seen from this collection of reader refl ec- tions, the biblical characters oſt en invite us to understand ourselves more deeply and dig into who we are in relation to others and to God. So here is a challenge: First, think of one character

from a biblical story with whom you identify. For example, are you like Naomi, a widow who has lost her husband and sons and feels lost and lonely? Are you like the rich young man who comes to Jesus asking questions? Open up the Scripture and be inspired. T ere are myriad possibilities. Second, read your character’s

story (or stories) multiple times, exploring all the details. Let the

story pose questions and wonder- ments. Dwell with the story; inhabit your character from diff erent angles. T ird, give yourself over to

the study of your story and your character—for a month, six months or even a year. Read study notes, articles, books or even novels. T ink about the historical and literary context of your character’s story(ies). Talk about your character with friends and family. Perhaps you can share with a

study partner who is exploring his or her own chosen biblical char- acter. Talk with people of diff erent ages and cultures and listen to their insights about your character. Look for music (hymns or popular songs), fi lm and art that express your story. Be playful and let your biblical imagination take fl ight. T roughout this process ask

yourself some questions: What am I learning about myself from my chosen character? What are my failings and strengths? Is this character more about who I have been or what I want to become? What am I being called to be, say or do?

Author bio: Jacobson is professor emerita of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., where she taught from 1982 to 2010.

How is this exploration of my character helping me to better under- stand myself as a child of God? When the time comes and your

Try a similar exercise with your whole congregation. Check out Story Matters: Naming, Claiming and Liv- ing Our Biblical Identity at dwelling.html (click on “Story Matters PDF”).

heart is full, the Bible will be newly alive to you since you lived each day accompanied by your biblical counterpart. Perhaps you’ll start the process all over again with a brand new character. 

“The Return of the Prodgal Son” (c. 1900); etching by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-

1931; French); from the Jerry Evenrud Prodigal Son Collection at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

December 2015 21


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