Date of Award
Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)
College of Christian Ministries and Religion
Department of Christian Ministries and Religion
Dr. Alan Ehler
Dr. Robby Waddell
Dr. Melissa Archer
My wife and I recently took a trip to Disney World, and while we marveled at the attractions I began to hear languages that I was not used to hearing. It was the sound of diversity.
Disney World has a magic that attracts people from a diversity of places, religions, ages, genders, and sexual orientation. So, the question is: What makes so many different kinds of people stand in line to meet a man in a mouse costume in Florida? I believe, the answer is story.
Stories bring us together, bridging social gaps and allowing us to not only see things from a different point of view, but experience life from a new perspective. Stories invite us to share our hopes, our fears, and our struggles with people totally different than us. During my time seeking my Master of Arts in Theological Studies I became fascinated by this idea. I began my degree seeking to learn enough theological theories and hermeneutical perspectives that I would be able to easily express what is compelling about the Christian faith. I learned a great deal, largely thanks to hardworking professors and inspiring peers. However, as I tried to think of my thesis topic I was frustrated to find a topic that was compelling, something that could take what I had learned throughout my studies and make it accessible to anyone. I decided to write a story.
Telling stories to convey a deeper meaning is not abnormal in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Genesis begins with a poetic telling of the creation of the universe and continues with another creative re-telling of the creation of the universe. Nathan used a story to tell David of his sins. Jesus used parables to teach the masses of the truths of the Kingdom of God. John used a fantastical story to tell of his Revelation. So I decided to write a story to share some of the important lessons that I learned during my journey. The lesson of diversity, of synecdoche, that the Gospel is more than a sum of its parts. I found a great deal of inspiration from The Shadow of the Galilean by Gerd Theissen and The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World by Bruce W. Longenecker, both of which use the genre of historical fiction as an important story telling device. I believe historical fiction is a particularly valuable genre for those who have a familiarity with the academy because it allows the story to be filled with details from history and theory.
I have used my footnotes throughout the text to offer more in depth theological reflection as well as a kind of map should the reader find a certain thought or story interesting. It is my prayer that this story inspires a deeper love for God and for one another to anyone who reads it.
LARSON, LEVI A., "SYNECDOCHE: A GOSPEL STORY" (2018). Masters of Theological Studies. 7.