62 – Literature of the Bible

Understanding the Bible is much easier if you know the types of genre. Knowing genre, you can quickly identify the specific genre you are reading and know what to expect from it.

Much of the Bible is narrative. This simply records actions and events, neither condemning nor condoning any of what actually happens. The important thing to remember in narrative, as with any other type of genre, is the first time a word or event occurs. If a similar word or event shows up later, both events will have a kind of connection, whether a parallel or contrast. When reading events, take note of the smallest details.

The genealogy genre is easily belittled. Genesis has some genealogy. Genealogies often have small events inserted, highlighting things a person did or did not do. These can be significant. To Jewish culture, a genealogy was also important to confirm which tribe someone came from.

Law is seen much in the second part of Exodus, as well as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. While other “laws” appear elsewhere—such as God’s instructions to Joshua for invasion—Exodus sets the template for the genre. Laws were specific to Israel, mainly before Jesus. But, we can still learn from them and following many parts of Moses’ Law can be beneficial. The important truths about laws are that Jesus completed the laws for sacrifices and that Jesus interprets Moses’ Law more clearly than anyone else. Look at the Jerusalem Council in Acts and also Hebrews for apostolic commentary on the Law.

Poetry fully comprises Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentation, but poetry also appears in other Bible passages. By familiarizing yourself with these books of poetry, you will understand poetry in other books of the Bible.

Figures of speech can appear anywhere in the Bible. Know them in your native language, then you will recognize them in the Bible. Label language as “figurative” only with good reason, never favoring a contradictory interpretation.

Prophecy and visions pop up everywhere, containing both figurative and literal language. Interpreting these requires time and never finishes. Begin with Daniel and Revelation.

The Gospels and Acts are ancient journalism. The rest of the New Testament is correspondence.