Plots and Characters

Who is the guy with the red cap? So what are they all doing in that garage? If you’ve ever joined someone in watching a movie that has already been going for a few minutes you had to ask some basic questions to make sense of what was going on.


The first thing you probably asked was about the plot. Everyone is born, lives, and one day will die. These are the broad parameters of the plot of life. In between, life consists of many smaller plots that often are motivated by conflict or tension. Looking for a plot means trying to connect all the relevant parts of the story in order to see the big picture. In the book of Job, for example, there are two plots.


The Bible book of Job tells a seemingly simple story: a renegade prophet of God tries to run away from the job that he has been given, and after many detours finally ends up doing what God wanted him to do in the first place. Simple plot: yes and no. As a matter of fact, the bible has no one-dimensional plots, because God always is active in history and human lives, even if working behind the scenes. In the first two chapters of Job, we can imagine changing channels, as we jump between the earthly and the heavenly plots.


Stories, however, are more than plots. People make stories. How we understand the character or characters depends to a large degree on the information given by the narrator, who may even be one of the characters. Let’s take the lady prophet Huldah (her story’s found in 2 Kings 22:14) as an example: Is she one of the main characters in the story? No. This story is actually about the discovery of the book of the Law during the reign of King Josiah. While she may not be a main character, every character in a story is vital to the development of the story. Does Huldah have children? How old is she? We don’t know the answers to these questions. Biblical stories tend to be very concise and often abbreviated. This means that we need to pay close attention to every piece of information given. Huldah was a woman and was regarded as a reliable prophetess of the Lord. The biblical author gives us information about her husband’s family because women during the Old Testament times were identified with their husband’s family. Her address is also given. As in modern times official documents always require a name and an address to prove that you are who you say you are.


What is your sub-plot in the plot of life? What kind of character are you?


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