It’s a little known fact that I’m a Star Wars geek. I’ve been watching The Clone Wars cartoon with my children (which is fantastic), and we just finished Season 3. I think it’s a good time for a Star Wars post.
Star Wars (both in the films and the cartoons) makes abundant use of a fun literary device called the “type scene.” The Bible uses the same device, so Star Wars can help us understand it.
If you and I are discussing the Star Wars films, and I say, “I love that scene where the evil Sith lord cuts off the good guy’s appendage,” you would be right to ask, “Which one: Episode 2, where Dooku chops off Anakin’s arm, or Episode 5, where Darth Vader slices Luke’s hand off?”
For more examples, see if you can name which Star Wars movies have the following scenes:
- Sith asks Jedi to join with him and overthrow his evil master. Together, they could rule the galaxy.
- A dismembered C3PO makes all kinds of corny jokes.
- The young, attractive politician attracts the unconventional warrior.
- A chase through an asteroid field.
- The young but skilled pilot wins the battle by blowing up the giant space station.
Such vague descriptions could describe numerous “type scenes” that keep repeating in the Star Wars movies. With each repetition of the scene, a creator connects two different characters or scenarios without having to say “this one is just like that one.”
Let me give some examples of this technique in the Bible.
- The man of God leaves the land of promise due to some sort of famine or distress. In a foreign land, his wife masquerades as his sister but gets kidnapped. You may have read these stories in Genesis 12:10-20, 20:1-18, and Gen 26:6-11. What’s the point? Abraham faced similar temptation all through his life, and Isaac struggled with it just like his dad did.
- God rescues his people from Egyptian captivity, and brings them through the Sea and wilderness. Of course this happens in the book of Exodus, but the prophets use the same language to describe the Exile (for example, see Isaiah 10:24-25). Jesus went through it, too (Matthew 2:14-15, 3:13-17, 4:1-2). What’s the point? Jesus endured all that Israel endured, as their representative.
- God’s ambassador heals a lame man by the city gate, and the Jewish officials get riled up about it. Jesus does it in John 5:1-17, and Peter & John do it in Acts 3:1-4:22. What’s the point? Jesus’ disciples truly act in His name, with his full authority and power (Matthew 28:18-20).
Star Wars shows us how useful type scenes can be. The Bible does it even better, though.
One more tip: pay attention whenever a Star Wars character says, “I have a bad feeling about this.” It demonstrates another great literary device: repetition. I’ll save that one for another day.