Michael Card on Completing the Biblical Imagination Series
In a recent interview, author Michael Card talked about his four-volume commentary set the Biblical Imagination Series. Published over a three-year span, the series is now coming to a close with the final volume John: The Gospel of Wisdom.
You had a vision for the Biblical Imagination Series and its impact on readers and seminar attendees. Recapture what that vision was for us.
MC: The vision is to encourage followers of Jesus to engage with the Scripture at the level of the imagination. To not simply read for information or theological affirmation but to grasp fully with all the heart and all the mind the person of Jesus as He is expressed through the Gospels. We must take a fresh approach against biblical illiteracy in the church and I hope this approach will help in that fight.
You’ve just completed John, and you called it The Gospel of Wisdom. What drew you to that nomenclature for John’s Gospel?
MC: One of the reasons for the uniqueness of John (92 percent unique from the Synoptics) is that he bases his presentation of Jesus on the Wisdom writings, where the Synoptics are based on the Law and the Prophets. But that presentation reflects the perspective of the Wisdom writings, which surprisingly concern themselves primarily with the inadequacy of Wisdom. John engages with that motif by presenting Jesus as the misunderstood Wisdom of God.
Earlier, you’d published a book with Thomas Nelson on John called The Parable of Joy. You’ve moved from “joy” to “wisdom.” Why that shift? What did you encounter today that was surprising or different from your ponderings some twenty years ago?
MC: The earlier focus on the nature of parable in John comes from his portrayal of the life of Jesus as a parable. I still believe this is a compelling idea but not the central organizing principle of the book. What surprised me twenty years later were the connections between John and Ephesus and Ephesus and Jerusalem.
Tell us about the songs focused on John, a recording you’re calling The Misunderstood Messiah. What are your one or two favorite cuts?
MC: The record is not far along enough as yet to talk about specific songs. I do believe this will be my last ten-song record and so I am planning on making it special.
What are the two or three surprising things you learned about Jesus or about the Gospels as you read, studied and wrote these four volumes in print and in song?
MC: The absolute authority of Jesus as seen particularly in his miracles, the way people often respond with fear and awe was new to me. In Jesus we do not see a struggle between the power of light and darkness. This is not Darth Vader and Luke with light sabers pushing against each other to see whose power is greatest. Jesus simply speaks a word and people are healed and delivered or the storm is calmed. That kind of authority can be disturbing.
Michael Card is an award-winning musician, performing artist and writer of “El Shaddai,” “Immanuel” and many other songs. He has also written numerous books, including A Sacred Sorrow, A Violent Grace, The Parable of Joy and Sleep Sound in Jesus (a children’s book).
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