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Unit 1 Biblical Genres and the Torah

Lesson 1.1 The Genres of the Bible

I.

Introduction to Genre
A. Denition of Genre 1. a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter (New Oxford American Dictionary). 2. In other words, it is a style that characterizes a group of compositions.

I.

Introduction to Genre

B. Thoughts on the Bible and Genre


Different kinds of literature need to be read differently. We do not read magazines, poetry, novels, or history the same way, because they are different kinds of writing. There are many different genres in the Bible. The Genre is the type of literature. In order to interpret the Bible accurately, we have to correctly identify the type of genre of each book (and the different genres found within each book). By doing this, we will read the book the way it was meant to be read. When we read different kinds of literature today, we generally do not make a conscious decision to read them differently. We do this automatically. For example, we can put down a newspaper and pick up a novel without intentionally deciding to read according the genrewe do this naturally. However, since the Bible is one book, we tend to read all of its parts the same way. We have to remember that the Bible is 66 books in one book, and these 66, being different kinds of

II.

Biblical Genres

A. Torah: The rst ve books of the Bible. Torah means instruction and does not only refer to laws, but any kind of teaching. In these books God begins his covenant relationship with his people. B. Historical Narrative: Books that tell the history of Israel in the form of stories. The unique aspect of these stories is that God is the main character. The author interprets the events from Gods perspective. C. Poetry: Books about how to live wisely and worship deeply. The Psalms are the worship songs of Israel their hymnal. D. Prophecy: Writings by Gods messengers who delivered Gods message of judgment and call for repentance to Israel. Contrary to popular belief, these books are not primarily about telling the future.

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Biblical Genres
E. Epistles: Letters written to churches or other individuals to explain and clarify who God is and how we should live. F. Gospels: A special kind of history/narrative that focuses on the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. G. Apocalyptic: Prophecy concerning end of the world. Communicated through intense gurative language and symbolism.

III. Biblical Sub-genres


A. Exposition carefully reasoned argument or explanation; wellorganized; logical ow; terms are crucial; builds to a logical, compelling climax; the aim is agreement and action B. Narrative A broad category in which story is prominent; includes historical accounts; structure is conveyed through plot; characters undergo psychological and spiritual development C. Biography - Close-up view of an individuals life; subject is often portrayed in contrast to someone else; selected events reveal character development, either positively or negatively D. Parables - Brief oral story illustrating a moral; truth is presented through everyday characters and situations; encourages reection and self-evaluation E. Law Instruction given by God to people of God to show them how they were to be Gods people, both in their relationships with each other and in their relationship with God

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