Local authors relate New Testament narratives to modern life

lifestyle_religionBy Riley Manning

Daily Journal

Methodist ministers Joe Edd Morris, Ph.D., and Dr. Roy Ryan are back with a new book entitled “New Testament Stories: What Do They Say Today?”

The book serves as a followup to the duo’s 2013 effort, “Old Testament Stories: What Do They Say Today?” in which they parsed tales from the Old Testament and related them to modern day life.

“New Testament Stories” seeks to do the same, but Morris and Ryan found the New Testament to be a different animal.

“William Faulkner famously said the New Testament is about ideas and the Old Testament is about people,” Ryan said. “So we weren’t sure what to expect at first. But once we actually looked closely at the text, we discovered there were lots of narratives to choose from.”

Among the 14 stories Morris and Ryan explore, a few draw on Jesus’s early acts of healing. Others include the Jerusalem Conference and the wedding at Canaan.

“I’ll venture to say after reading the chapter on the wedding in Canaan, you won’t be able to look at a wedding ceremony the same way again,” Morris said.

Ryan and Morris said they have been unable to find a project similar to theirs, in which they focus less on in-depth scholarship and theology to pay more attention to the scripture’s relevance in navigating through modern life.

“For instance,” Morris said. “In the first chapter, we examine the demoniac in the synagogue. We saw parallels with mental health issues at play today. We write about how the Jerusalem Conference is much like Congress or Parliament today. The five chapters we devote to Jesus’s acts of healing relate to current discussions of medicare and our responsibility to help one another.”

The stories, Ryan said, were ones he had heard dozens of times over the years. But examining them with a fresh lens brought them to life for him once again, a sensation he hopes his readers to experience.

“We wrote ‘New Testament Stories’ to help Christians and truth-seekers to learn more about Jesus Christ and the early life of the church,” he said.

“New Testament Stories: What Do They Say Today?” is currently available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or through the authors for a discounted rate. It may also be ordered along with their first book as a bundle ready-made for personal or group study.

“There is a quality of depth to the New Testament, distinctly different from the Old Testament,” Morris said. “Maybe it has something to do worth the work in progress that is man’s relationship with God, but we feel like we definitely came to a greater understanding in writing this book.”

riley.manning@journalinc.com