General Purposes

  1. Stories may reflect and represent a cultural tradition and identity [People in other cultures are interested in our story—they enjoy family pictures. Note war stories, hunting and sports stories, missionary stories, etc.];
  2. Oral societies give their history by means of folk stories and folk history [ examples of genealogies in Bible and in oral societies such as Kewa; Example of WK genealogy—blood vs. marriage kin = consanguines and affines];

Exercise: have students tell the story of their relatives by means of a kinship chart.

  1. Stories may be historical, in that they are built on what the teller views or represents as things that actually happened [Solomon Islands and the American and Japanese memorials];
  2. Stories may be instructive, either directly or indirectly, and have applications;
  3. Stories may be entertaining and told by professional storytellers; [The “Chuck wagon” story]
  4. Stories may be a form of propaganda [as is advertising or John Kennedy and the wartime hero story or other politician’s stories that appear just before elections]
  5. Stories can be adapted according to audience backgrounds: age, ethnic group, gender, etc. [Children’s Bible story books: The Bible for Children]
  6. Stories are not exegesis, semantics, pragmatics or theology, but may be analyzed for each of these [Actors, Agents, settings, background, deixis, etc. ;
  7. Storytelling may be ad hoc and provocative [One story leads to another—chain of imagination, etc.; Story triggers];
  8. Storytellers may use their stories to demonstrate and promote their power. [Note how Ken Pike used stories to develop and sustain the interest of members in linguistics and academics; The story of his broken leg and how it led to the textbook on Phonetics;]
  9. Stories may be very personal: my story is mine alone; you may retell it but it is then an adaptation; Stories can be developed by using clues and frames. [Note To our children’s children: Preserving family histories for generations to come—See example on “Elementary School”]

Exercise: Go through a series of questions on “elementary school” (p.35 of Greene and Fulford) having students take notes on the basis of the images they see, then have them tell their story of their elementary school.

Categories and Classifications

  1. Stories can be categorized generically and individually [The words iti and remaa in Kewa and how anthropologists have seen was as representing folklore and the other history.  Give example of how stories begin in Kewa; Application of brothers story to a Bible story: There were two brothers Peter and Andrew, etc.];
  2. Stories can be fictional, made up, and not represent any historical event at all [e.g. was there a particular man who owned only 100 sheep and lost only one, etc. Wopa’s cultural rendition];
  3. Stories are dynamic and can be converted into drama or song to represent aspects of the story; [Inheritance story where quarreling goes on; Competitive singing and rapping]
  4. Stories are contrastive in type and sub-type (is a parable a kind of story or is it a story?) and books are catalogued according to fiction, non-fiction (biography and autobiography), reference, children’s and so forth; [C.S. Lewis and A Grief Observed]
  5. Stories have variations around themes, plots, sub-plots and so on [The moral of the story; stories on lostness in Luke, etc.;
  6. Stories may be short and pithy, accompanied by animation, drama, etc. as in advertising; [Superbowl advertising]
  7. Stories are found throughout the Bible and told in various renditions [Literal, free, etc. See ;Stories involve memory and memory aids. [Take Story cloth and scarf; Memory pictures; ]

Exercise: work through the story cloth with several students.

  1. Stories are live representations that impress listeners more than propositions (e.g. “The Bible is the inerrant word of God” is a proposition; “My testimony is that when reading the word of God I was convicted and…” is a story.);
  2. Stories are idiomatic, i.e. they are told in the vernacular with cultural analogies and background information; [Story of Good Samaritan and the comparison to Wewak to Aitape]


  1. Stories can be endless [Paul Harvey and the “rest of the story; Story of anthropology studies and Ed Overholt];
  2. The intended message of a story is not always apparent in the translation but may be makde clear by an interpretive story instead [Daniel and dreams];
  3. Stories represent the common people by means of folk stories, ~art, etymology, lore, medicine, music, tales, etc. [e.g. of folk medicine: how I cured the common cold using flax seed; Tabloid stories];
  4. Storytelling combines various elements:
    • Art/drama/song/intonation
    • Imagination
    • Facts and history
    • Embellishments
    • Variations
    • Emotions
    • Media (voice over, camera angle, music scores

Effects and Results

  1. Stories are often imaginative, not just in the sense of say Jesus telling a parable of a banquet, but also in the minds of the listeners as they form mental images of the story; [Analogy of the OK banquet for Vida Chenoweth]
  2. To gain various outputs:
    • Confusion
    • Discussion and consideration
    • Decision and actioin
    • Replication or retelling
    • Entertainment
    • Honor (fallen heroes; Hebrews 11)
    • Identity with teller or characters

[Karl Franklin, Revised, February 2007]