The Importance of Genre

By Jerry Wierwille

The Bible is filled with various types of literature called genre. Understanding the genre for the particular part of the Bible you are reading is very important so that you recognize specific characteristics and have the right approach to reading it.

“There is a…sense in which the Bible, since it is after all literature, cannot properly be read except as literature; and the different parts of it as the different sorts of literature they are.”

~C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958), 3.

Literature and Genre

Literature: “Any form of written communication that is organized and presented in a coherent fashion for the purpose of transmitting ideas or information.”

Genre: “A particular subject or style of literature, art, or music that shares a particular set of similar characteristics.”

MAJOR TYPES OF GENRE

  1. Narrative
  2. Law
  3. Wisdom
  4. Prophecy
  5. Apocalypse
  6. Gospel
  7. Letter
NARRATIVE

·        Historical

·        People, Places, Events

·        Storyline (scenes/plot)

·        Dialogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAW

·        Covenantal

·        Instructive

·        General & Particular

·        Purposeful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WISDOM

·        Poetic

·        Guiding Principles

·        Broad Application

·        Collective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROPHECY

·        Situational

·        Divine Oracles

·        Present & Future Oriented

·        Corrective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APOCALYPSE

·        Cryptic / Symbolic

·        Prophecy & Narrative

·        Dual Purpose

·        Situational

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOSPEL

·        Historical

·        Biographical

·        Episodic

·        Theological

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LETTER

·        Personal

·        Occasional

·        Authoritative

·        Persuasive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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