What Is a Biblical Call Narrative?

A call narrative is an observed structure of Biblical accounts in which God calls a person for special duties and sets him apart for sacred work. A Biblical call narrative describes a direct human encounter with God, and its structure encompasses five elements: introduction, reaction/assurance, commission, reassurance and conclusion.

The introduction describes circumstances immediately prior to a divine encounter, which typically prompts a reaction of fear and requires divine assurance. God delivers a commission for the work to be done, which prompts objections, often based on feelings of inadequacy, requiring further reassurance from God. The narrative concludes as the commissioned people set out to perform the assigned work.

The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and His commissioning of the disciples follow the Biblical call narrative. The disciples were initially startled and needed assurance from Jesus, and Thomas refused to believe until he was allowed to touch Jesus’ body.