I received an advance reader’s copy of Scot McKnight’s new book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible this past weekend. They were sending copies to bloggers who would be willing to review the book. I was interested I reading the book anyway so I submitted my blog and received a copy.
Scot McKnight is a professor in Religious Studies at North Park University in Chicago. He was an editor of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels as well as the author of the NIV Application Commentary volume on Galatians and books such as The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others; The Real Mary: Why Evangelicals Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus; Jesus and His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement Theory; and A Community Called Atonement (Living Theology), co-authored with Tony Jones.
Scot’s purpose of writing this book is to ask – in our postmodern society that has been open to deconstruction – “How do we now approach the Bible? What does it mean to speak of reading the Bible as Story, of learning to “listen” to the Bible, and of how to discern a pattern for living today?”
The title comes from an episode of bird watching in Scot’s backyard. He noticed an unusual blue bird which turned out to be a blue parakeet, probably a former pet that escaped from its cage. He observed how this interloper interacted with the normal visitors to the McKnight bird feeder. The sparrows who were regulars in the yard, at first seemed afraid of the parakeet, but eventually they adjusted to it and even adapted to some of the parakeet’s behavior. They let the blue parakeet be a blue parakeet instead of making it conform to their routine. The sparrows may have thought they had adjusted to the new bird, but every now and then the blue parakeet did something that frightened the sparrows. Even though it was formerly a caged pet, it was not tame.
Scot compares some of the more disturbing (to him) Bible passages and biblical quandaries as “blue parakeet” experiences. When we encounter blue parakeets in the Bible or in the questions of others (some examples he gives are Sabbath observances, foot washing, women in church ministries and homosexuality), we have to stop and think. Is this passage for today or not? How we respond to passages and questions will determine if we become aware of what is going on or not. When we encounter blue parakeet passages in the Bible, we are given the opportunity to observe and learn. “In such case, we really do open ourselves to the thrill of learning how to read the Bible. But, like the sparrows, we have to get over our fears and learn to adjust to the squawks of the Bible’s blue parakeets. We dare not tame them” (29).
Scot then states that how you react to the blue parakeet passages in the Bible will reveal all you need to know about how you approach the Bible.
I am excited to read this book because I think it deals with some issues that I have been dealing with about how I (and the tradition I've been raised within) have been looking at passages of the Bible and how I try to live it out.