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Graceful ReadingTheology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan$
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Michael Davies

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242405

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199242402.001.0001

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Of Things Seen and Unseen: Graceful Reading and Narrative Practice in Grace Abounding

Of Things Seen and Unseen: Graceful Reading and Narrative Practice in Grace Abounding

Chapter:
(p.117) 3 Of Things Seen and Unseen: Graceful Reading and Narrative Practice in Grace Abounding
Source:
Graceful Reading
Author(s):

Michael Davies (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199242402.003.0004

Grace Abounding teaches the reader about spiritual understanding and interpretation, beyond the rational comprehension of doctrine alone, by recounting how learning to read the Word for the Spirit rather than for the stories of Scripture was central to Bunyan’s conversion. Interpretation and spiritual understanding are also central to the text’s narrative construction and its presentation of spiritual experience, which demand a conversion of the reader’s perceptual habits. Using McHale’s terms, Grace Abounding foregrounds the ‘ontological’ (i.e., matters of being and believing) over the ‘epistemological’ (i.e., what is rationally knowable). The text’s narrative structure, use of metaphor, and its status as autobiography, are viewed in anti-narrative terms, frustrating any interest in the ‘story’ of Bunyan’s conversion, while encouraging the reader instead to contemplate ‘things unseen’.

Keywords:   anti-narrative, autobiography, conversion, epistemological, interpretation, McHale, metaphor, narrative, ontological

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