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Bible Study Guide >
Bible Interpretation > Genre Analysis
BIBLE GENRE ANALYSIS
This page is part of the Interpretation Section of our Bible Study Guide. We'll explore the various literary genre's of the Bible, including how to recognize and interpret the various types.
Probably the second most common source of errors in Bible interpretation (behind taking Scripture out of proper context) is failure to apply the proper rules of genre interpretation. Each literary genre (type, category or form of literary composition such as poetry, prose etc) contains its own set of rules which govern both the author and the reader. In order for the reader to obtain a proper understanding of the author's meaning, he must correctly determine the literary form being used and apply the rules governing that literary form.
Navigation Notes: We've split this
series of articles into multiple pages. You may click on the “[TOC]” links
within the pages to return
to the Table of Contents.
|Table of Contents|
|Narratives (including Historical Precedent vs Timeless Principles)|
|The Laws (including Are OT Laws binding on Christians?)|
|Epistles (including Applications to Contemporary Situations)|
|Prophecy and Apocalyptic (including Literary Forms of Oracles)|
|Figures of Speech|
|Additional Related Articles:|
|Literalism (in relation to the various Genres)|
The authors of Scripture submitted to the various rules (sometimes referred to as the “norms of language") governing the various forms of biblical literature, and expected the reader to do the same. I once read an author comparing a reader utilizing the rules governing a parable while reading a narrative with someone watching a football game who was only familiar with the rules of baseball. In each case, neither would understand what they were reading or observing. We'll now examine the various rules for each literary type.
While reading the Bible, you'll find some books employ only one genre, while others contain many forms. In addition, there can be overlaps. For example, many psalms, poetry, and most proverbs can also be classified as wisdom literature. Some scholars even classify some types as sub-genres of another. With that in mind, we will attempt to treat separately the most common genres and sub-genres found in the Bible while noting the characteristics in common with the other literary types.
We'll have additional information on how literary genre applies to specific Bible books in our Bible Book Introductions section.