Genres

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Genres

What did the Bible writers know? What was their perspective? Did they believe the Earth was flat or not? Did God adapt His speaking so that we could understand?

Did God create the world in six days - and if so: why?

Bible scholars and scientists have been pondering on this for ages.

What was the perspective of the Bible writers?

Genres in Scripture - how do I read?

Bible writers use different genres of writing: sometimes factual, sometimes poetic, sometimes prophetic and sometimes they use symbolic language.

  • The historical books relate what happened in a factual way. That doesn't mean that all facts are told - sometimes we would like to know more. The books of Moses and Joshua to Chronicles are written in this way.
  • Poetic language in the Bible is different from what we are used to. The Psalms often use parallelism: the first line is repeated with other words or the second line is in contrast with the first. Examples: He spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm (Psalm 33:9) or: The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction (Psalm 1:6). The use of this language doesn't mean in correct information is given.
  • Profetical books often use poetic but also symbolic language. Symbolic language often is easy to recognise: the Median-Persian empire is described as a bear, the Lord Jesus as the Lamb and as a Lion. Symbolic language does describe a reality: the goat in Daniel 8  shows how Alexander  the Great would conquer a large part of the world.


    Several layers of meaning

    The Bible can often be read at different levels. If the Church fathers e.g. saw an allegory in the six days of Creation, it was an extra layer of meaning to them: the historirall meaning still stood firm in their eyes. Many Bible passages show three different layers of meaning:

    • The historical meaning: this is what happened. Written down is what's important for what follows. Think of the Passover: it's closely connected to the liberation of Israel on of Egypt.
    • The spiritual meaning: for me or the church, what can we learn from it? This layer of meaning has its roots in the historical layer. The Passover tells me that I'm safe behind the blood of the Lamb. We celebrate this fact at the Lord's Supper.
    • A profetical meaning: what does it mean for the future? Sometimes a part of it has been fulfilled already - like with the Passover: this was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross.

    Also read the other pages

    See the menu above. The scientific arguments for (theistic) evolution are discussed on BioLogos and Body plan. Also see Origins (five sub-pages) and Strata (with sub-pages about fossils and the flood)..

    For links see the main page.

    parel
    parel
    leeuw
    leeuw

    Two examples of clearly symbolic language in the Bible. The lion is mentioned as a literal lion (in the story of Samson e.g.), but is also used in a symbolic way (for example in Revelation 5). 

    The same applies to the pearl: symbolically it is used in a parable in Matthew 13.

    In both cases it is quite obvious whether it's used symbolically (with a clear and real meaning behind the symbol) or not..

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