The Bible tells the story of the world: Creation, the Fall of Man, the history of national Israel, the coming of Christ, the beginnings of the Church and the future unveiling of the full glory of God. Each of these narrative threads are tightly woven into a beautiful tapestry representing Christ and His redemptive work. The individual books of Scripture are an essential part of that story, so it is important that we understand each one on its own as well as its place in the broader context of Scripture. Traditional commentaries have tried to guide readers toward this understanding through verse-by-verse exposition of passages. Such careful analysis is often helpful, but it is not the only way to approach Bible study. We emphasize resources with a broader, story-based approach that concentrate on major themes and symbolism.
Two books that ably demonstrate this narrative approach are Through New Eyes by James Jordan, and A House for My Name by Peter Leithart. Jordan's book develops a "maximalist" approach to Scripture, incorporating typology and symbolism in its studies. The original authors and readers of the Bible had a certain way of looking at the world that is refelected in the traditional canon. That way of looking was rooted in biblical typology. If we train ourselves to recognize these symbols and their meaning, we will come to a better understanding of the Biblical narrative. A House for My Name similarly follows thematic arcs through the Biblical covenants, demonstrating the coherence of the overall story. Leithart shows how the main characters and events of the Old Testament all point to Christ (John 5:39).
Commentaries are designed not only to tell us about the Bible, but to show it to us in a fresh way. A good commentary helps readers think clearly about the whole Bible, not just fragments of it, and thematic and story-based commentaries offer a holistic approach well adapted to this kind of thinking.