Structures and Styles

GENRE OF THE BIBLE

1. NARRATIVES are stories of events, such as David slaying Goliath.

2. GOSPELS roughly speaking are sayings and stories.

3. PARABLES are extended similes with one story and many dimensions. They are a formal
comparison limited in their range and confined to what is real.

4. POETRY is metrical language or writing. Many psalms are poems set to music and sung. The
five poetic books of the Hebrew Bible are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.
The prophets wrote oracles of God in poetry. The whole Book of Nahum is an oracle of God
written in Hebrew poetry.

5. WISDOM is collections of wise sayings. Proverbs state a wise way to approach certain selected
practical goals but do so in terms that cannot be treated like a divine warranty of success. A good
definition of a proverb is Proverbs 6:23.

6. LETTERS/EPISTLES are written to individuals or churches.

7. APOCALYPTIC genre is comprised of images, which are often forms of fantasy than reality.
The Books of Daniel and Revelation are finely blended combinations of apocalypse, prophecy
and letter.

8. PROPHECY is foretelling or prediction of what is to come. Primarily the prophets speak for God
to their own contemporaries and the prophets were covenant enforcement mediators between God
and man in Israel.

9. HISTORY is written both to encourage and entertain (to be good reading) as well as to inform,
moralize, or offer an apologetic.

10. TYPOLOGY is essentially a prefiguring of something future from itself. That which is
prefigured is called the antitype or object of that type. There are OT typical persons, institutions,
feasts, rituals, offices, events and actions identified with antitypes in the NT. Two of the most
comprehensive OT types of Christ, Joseph and the Tabernacle with its furnishings, are not
identified as such in the NT.

11. SYMBOLS and SYMBOLIC ACTIONS is a literal object or action that conveys some lesson,
e.g., 1 Kings 11:29-33. The names of symbols are to be understood literally. The same symbol
can be used to symbolize different objects in different contexts. “Lion” is the devil in 1 Peter 5:8
and Christ in Revelation 5:5.

12. LAW, roughly speaking, is made up of covenant stipulations for Israel. There are over six
hundred commandments in four of the thirty-nine books of the OT. The OT Law is divided into
moral, ceremonial and civil statutes, precepts, decrees and commands. The term LAW as used in
the NT usually refers to certain parts rather than the entire body of OT Law. The reader must
discover what the writer himself intended by the term “law.”

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