The Greatest Story, Retold

By Jennifer Johnson

There are many things I love about living in Philadelphia—the history, the proximity to New York, the water ice (look it up).

Joe Boyd says, “I believe stories have the power to change the world.”
Joe Boyd says, “I believe stories have the power to change the world.”

But this month I’m wishing I still lived in Cincinnati . . . or Orange County, California . . . or even Nashville so I could get to a show or three of Joe Boyd’s Gospel of John and his retelling of both Old and New Testament stories next year.

I also wish I could take everyone I know, both my friends who have been Christians forever and the ones who think the rest of us are nuts. Whether from familiarity or apathy, it’s too easy to write off these stories as boring or irrelevant instead of finding them “beautiful and contagious,” as Joe wrote in a Huffington Post article this past June.

When I interviewed him about the project, Joe said, “I read these stories and I can see the drama and humor, but a lot of people can’t. I get to be an interpreter.” (CLICK HERE to read the article.)

Although I could never tell them as well as he does, I know what he means. The book of Exodus makes me wonder how many times Moses just rolled his eyes and did a “facepalm” at the annoying Israelites. I’ve always wished the Gospels included the pranks the disciples played on each other or more clearly showed Jesus’ sarcasm with the Pharisees. And my recent acquisition of a mischievous Siberian husky and two sweaty, scattered middle schoolers makes me wonder all over again how Noah survived for months with two of every animal plus his wife and three sons in a not-very-big boat.

These were actual events propelled by real people with dreams, doubts, hobbies, habits, indigestion. This is our messy, surprising, fascinating history as a people of faith, and like all brilliant ideas, this venture of Joe’s seems so obvious: of course, tell the stories as they happened, as if they happened, and let them speak for themselves.

“I believe stories have the power to change the world,” Joe says. I think his retelling of the old, old story in a new way is going to change it for a number of people. I just need to convince him to bring it to Philly.

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