Looking Before and After Testimony and the Christian Life Alan Jacobs Eerdmans, $14, 124 pp.
Within the past generation there has been a renewed interest in narrative theology, which is derived, philosophically, from the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, and practiced with great skill by the Duke theologian Stanley Hauerwas, among others. It is on the basis of this development that Alan Jacobs constructed the Stob Lectures he presented at Calvin College in 2006.
Jacobs, a well-known Evangelical writer, is professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. He devoted the bulk of the lectures, collected in Looking Before and After, to the recovery of memory in the telling of stories. The key figure in this project is St. Augustine; the key text his meditation on memory in book 10 of the Confessions.
At a certain level, Christianity itself is radically narrative in character. After all, at the apex of the Christian life is the Eucharistic celebration, which tells a story in the Liturgy of the Word and acts it out in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Christian life is about how one’s own story is shaped by the Gospel story so that it may contribute to the all-inclusive story of God’s redemptive love.