THE course book Imaging the Story can be used with a group or read alone. It aims to create imaginative encounters with the salvation story by bringing images and poetry into conversation with the Bible in ways that spark creativity in readers or course participants.
This is a book full of ideas, theological and artistic. The wealth of material within its pages is structured in terms of content through ten themes that take us from Creation to Consummation, while exploration of each theme is structured in terms of reading (of the biblical texts), responding (questions using “visuo divina”), reflecting (theological reflection with images and poetry), and making (artistic exercises leading to an exhibition).
The amount of material included is potentially a challenge for group leaders. It is suggested that the course consists of ten one-and-a-half- to two-hour sessions (and presumably has been trialled in this way). It seems to me, however, that there is sufficient material for half- or whole-day sessions on each theme, and that course leaders will have to be judicious in deciding how much of the available materials can feasibly be used in shorter sessions.
The amount of material and the sequencing of session structures varies from theme to theme, which may also pose a challenge to course leaders, as this increases the amount of pre-planning necessary before delivery.
The course is weighted towards the New Testament with seven of the ten sessions focusing their exploration there. The first three sessions (Creation, Crisis, and Calling) all have their focus in Genesis; so a vast swath of the Old Testament is unexplored. In view of the importance of Exodus and Exile, with Exile in recent years increasingly seen as a key to unlock the scriptures, this is an area of weakness within the chosen course structure.
Despite these criticisms, there is much here that is of value and that will spark imaginative reflective and artistic responses to the story of salvation. Imaging the Story is itself an imaginative response to that story.
The Revd Jonathan Evens is Associate Vicar for Partnership Development of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
Imaging the Story: Rediscovering the visual and poetic contours of salvation
Karen Case-Green and Gill C. Sakakini
Cascade Books £21
Church Times Bookshop £18.90