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How To Read The Bible – Part 3 – Literary Styles in the Bible


When you read a book it’s important to know what kind of book it is to help you understand its contents. If you’re reading a cookbook you would expect to find recipes inside. Likewise, if you’re reading a book about political intrigue and espionage, you would want to know whether it was fiction or not so that you can appropriately process the information it contains.


In the same way, we need to know what kind of book, or rather books, the Bible is made up of so that we know what to expect from them, and how to process the information they contain.


So, what are those primary types and what do they tell us about how to read our Bibles?


Watch Episode 3 by clicking HERE. Come back after the video to continue reading.


Here are some takeaways I’d like you to reflect on and to be aware of when you pick up your Bible to read.


The Bible is written in three primary literary styles and often we find elements of each in a single book. It’s important to know what style we’re encountering in a text and to notice when the text we’re reading moves from that style to another. We should also think about what those movements are designed to communicate as we read the Bible.


The first literary style of the Bible is Narrative. This is the style of writing which tells a story. Biblical authors use narrative to tell God’s story and through that story to communicate something about God to us the readers. Stories are how we transfer meaning, value, and purpose. Narrative is the language of the soul.


The second literary style of the Bible is Poetry. Poetry is used to move us outside ourselves and our ways of thinking/processing the world around us. Poetry evokes our senses and our imagination to help us to feel our way to understanding. It speaks to us on the level of our emotions, it appeals to our shared experiences. Poetry is the language of the heart.


The third literary style of the Bible is Prose/Discourse. Prose and Discourse are used to make logical arguments and they appeal to our sense of reason. This is the literary style that tries to change the way that we think. Prose/Discourse is the language of the mind.


Side Note…


In the words of Jesus, we are commanded to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 Isn’t it beautiful that we can see these aspects reflected in the literary styles of the Bible? The way in which we are called to be in relationship with God is the same way He reveals himself to us in His word.


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