Understanding Genre's - Letters

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE - Understanding Genre's

Let's say you found a letter from my wife to me. You don't read the whole letter you just look at one statement she made where she said, "Moe has been saying the "s-word" a lot lately and Isaac has been having temper tantrums and bit me twice." When reading that you may have some thoughts or questions. Who are Moe and Isaac? Do their children need discipline? Are these people foster parents? Before continuing to read this post, think about that statement in the letter and see if you can determine what's going on.
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Understanding Genre's - Gospels

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE - Understanding the Genre

Let's say I came to you and asked you to write a short story about your boss and your job. I wanted you to write it to your mother and explain what your boss is like and the purpose of your job. Let's say I came to your co-worker and asked them to write on the same subject; but, I want them to write it to their best friend. Then, I go to another co-worker of yours and tell them to write the same subject; but, I want them to write it to a complete stranger. Chances are, all three short stories will have much of the same content; yet, all three stories would consist of things the other stories don't have and they could be arranged in different orders. Now you have a picture of the Gospels.
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Understanding Genre


Imagine taking a telephone book (that's the old people's version of the digital address book), a menu, a few letters from different people to other people, a hymnal, and a history book, and put them all into one big book. Even though these different genre's of text are in one book, you would not read the letters the same way you read the menu and you would not read the telephone book the same way you read a history book.

What you have here is a picture of the Bible. The Bible consists of several types of text genre. There's prophecies, history, letters, the gospels, parables, wisdom writings, and songs. Each genre has a way in which it is to be studied in order to get the full understanding. Unfortunately, while wisdom writings like Proverbs are a series of "one-liner" nuggets of wisdom, we tend to read the entire Bible in that same manner; and we miss the point of the text we are reading because we miss the context of the genre.

Over the next several posts we are going to look at ways to study each genre of text.