Paul was telling stories, not proof-texting

Paul is often held up as the model for contemporary exegetical preaching and writing. As if he got BEYOND the stories about Israel and Jesus and mined the abstract timeless truth treasures, bringing them to up to the surface. But was that really what he was doing?

What about Paul? Surely he forswore the story-form, and discussed God, Jesus, the Spirit, Israel and the world in much more abstract terms? Was he not thereb leaving behind the world of the Jesish story-theology, and going off on his own into the rarefied territory of abstract Hellenistic speculation?

The answer is an emphatic no. As has recently been shown in relation to some key areas of Paul’s writing, the apostle’s most emphatically ‘theological’ statements and arguments are in fact expressions of the essentially Jesish story now redrawn around Jesus. This can be seen most clearly in his frequent statements, sometimes so compressed as to be almost formulaic, about the cross and resurrection of Jesus: what is in fact happening is that Paul is telling, again and again, the whole story of God, Israel and the world as now compressed into the story of Jesus.

So, too, his repeated use of the Old Testament is designed not as mere proof-texting, but, in part at least, to suggest new ways of reading well-known stories, and to suggest that they find a more natural climax in the Jesus-story than elsewhere.

-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, p.79