Biblical Genres and Figure of Speech

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Human beings have different psychological setting and this is the primary reason to their different interpretation of information. The Bible is read by many people and each of them has different and unique interpretation of the content. This paper will examine the different genres and figures of speech as discussed in the Introduction to Biblical Interpretation chapter 9 and 10.

Narrative

The Bible is a book yes but it is more complicated and if not well interpreted it can lead to misinterpretation of the message intended. Narrative is one of the genres found in the Bible. Kaiser in Richard W. Engle (2000) suggests some of the primary elements to be considered while analyzing the biblical narrative. According to Kaiser, analysis of biblical narrative should be based on the following elements; scene, plot, point of view, characterization and the setting (Dr. Richard W. Engle 90).

Scene: a scene is defined as a frame (Richard W. Engle, 2000). It shows and defines what characters do and it also explains the words used by the characters. Just like any other literary work, the Bible also has scenes. The bible has various characters and God included as He is mostly mentioned in the Bible. The interpreter should identify the scenes and propose a summary statement for each of the scenes (Richard W. Engle 90).

Plot: each and every story narrated by a narrator must have plot. Every story develops into various stages that make the plot of the story. According to Richard (2000), the plot of a story is developed into; comparative serenity, conflict and lastly the climax of the story where the conflict is resolved. For example, Richard states that the hero in the story enhances the resolution after which the story returns to serenity (Richard W. Engle 90). Richard gives an example from the book of Genesis from the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. The story begins with God demanding a sacrifice from Abraham and not only any animal but his (Abrahams) son. The climax of the story develops when Abraham is shown the lamb to sacrifice instead of his son. The conflict is resolved when Abraham offers the lamb provided to him by the Angel and returns home with his son (Gen 22:5, 19).

Point of view: point of view refers to the way in which people perceive a story. Point of view exists in different ways; spatial- this is where the narrator takes a position in the story and becomes one of the characters in the story (Richard 91). For example, in the book of Genesis (13:1,18) the narrator is in the story because when Lot turns into a rock of salt and Abraham moves to a new home the narrator moves with him.

Songs

The Bible is made up of different authors and at different times. Some of the books were meant to praise God and a good example of the book is the book of psalms is majorly songs. According to Richard W. Engle (2000) Psalms 22 shows the dramatic moods. Verse 1-22 show many marks common to many complaint or lament psalms (Richard W. Engle 96). These verses were mostly used by people to show their appreciation to God. Most of people refer to these verses as songs of individual thanksgiving (Richard W. Engle 96). Songs are mostly identified by the moods and the atmosphere of the text. Richard (2000) states that the public and private reading should offer the audience the opportunity to join in the reading with the moods and atmosphere of the psalms.

Prophetic speech

Prophecies were written in the Old Testament. According to Richard (2000), the prophecies in the Old Testament took various forms of expression. This includes; the autobiography form which gives the visionary reports. Another form that the prophecies take includes prophetic sayings. According to Richard (2000), the prophetic sayings can be divided further into judgment oracles that can either be directed to an individual; examples of the books addressed to individual include 1 king 21:18-19 and Isaac 22: 15-25 or nations; an example of the books addressed to the nations include Amos 4:1-2 and Micah 2:1.

Apocalypse

Most of the scholars have always tried to separate Apocalyptic as a single and distinctive genre of literature in the Bible. Apocalyptic shows the dreams and visions given to people by God. In determining Apocalyptic as one of the literary genres, one must consider the characteristics associated by the genre. These features include; metaphor, simile, hyperbole and repetition.

Richard gives some of the examples of the Biblical books that are associated with the apocalyptic genre. These include: Daniel 7-12, Ezekiel 38-39, Joel 2:28, Zechariah 1-6, 12-14, Mathew 24 (Richard W. Engle 93). However, Richard further argues that all the apocalyptic features cannot be found in a single passage.

Figures of speech

The Bible has been viewed as literary work and therefore it has literary elements such as figures of speech. These include: metaphors- these compare two different ideas by stating the difference between the ideas or things. For example, Anne W. Stewart (2015) states that proverbs 11:30 gives an example of the metaphors, the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. Metaphors are mostly known to explain meaningful information.

Secondly, personification is another figure of speech employed in the Bible. It is more evident in the book of proverbs. For example, Proverbs 1-9 explains feminist feature through poems. Personification helps to develop wisdom and values that is highly acceptable in the society such as love, determination and hard work.

Another figure of speech is simile. Similes are types of figure of speech that compares two ideas or two things with use of like or as. For example, in the book of proverbs 1:3 compares the wickedness of people with wind that blows away. The teaching of God is like a tree planted by stream of water, (Ann W. Stewart 2015).

Word play is another figure of speech evident in the Bible. Word play is the repetition of certain words or sentences to appeal the readers eye. Word play is mostly used to show the ironical point of view. For example, proverbs 12:5 explain the two ironical terms deceit and justice. One must be careful in reading to avoid misinterpretation of the information intended.

In conclusion, most of the genres in the Bible mostly used in the Old Testament and mainly consisted of hidden meaning and most of these contradict the New Testament. Therefore, it required high attention and keen synthesize of the message to avoid misinterpretation of the message.

Reference:

Stackhouse, John G., Jr. (2005). Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

Saricks, J. (2001). The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago and London: American Library Association.

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg and Robery L. Hubbard, JR (2004). Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Hardcover: 978-0785252252

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