Bible Interpretation Class – Hiawatha Bible Chapel
Genre - OT Narratives, Poetry, Prophecy, Apocalyptic
Lesson 5 – March 25th 2017
Brief Introduction to Biblical Genre
There are many different types of literature in the world. These types are called “genres.” A definition for the general word “genre” is:
genre (Webster) – Genre is a category of literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.
A definition that applies more to genre in the Bible is:
genre (Hermeneutical) – Genre is that sense of the whole which allows the interpreter to rightly interpret the particular parts [based on the type and form of the Biblical literature]
Guideline - Identifying the genre of the Biblical text one is reading is an important element of interpretation.
A list of Biblical genres is:
Gospels & Parables
Law & Wisdom Literature
Two key points about Biblical genre:
Hermeneutical Principles for the Various Genres
Some Principles for Interpreting Narratives
Some Special Techniques Used in Narratives
In narratives, we should pay attention to how various characters are (or aren’t) developed, i.e., what kind of people they are, what kinds of thoughts or feelings they express, etc. This will help us better understand what the narrator is trying to tell us. We generally see two types of characterizations of people in the narratives:
Free Direct Discourse is when an author gives the gist of what a character said rather than exactly what they said even though it is put on the lips of the character as if they said it directly. We do this in our day also:
Direct Discourse: “He said to me, ‘Although I am fairly busy … ahhh … I would like to come to your party, hmmm, not sure I can come, umm, what the heck, I suppose I can come.’ ”
Indirect Discourse: “He told me that he would come to my party.”
Free Direct Discourse: “He said to me, ‘Okay, I will come to your party.’ ”
This is the position or perspective from which a story is told. Many times we can put ourselves into the place of the character and try to look at the story from that character’s perspective. Some points of view used:
Recognizing that a passage is poetic, understanding how Hebrew poetry works, and knowing the special rules for interpreting poetry are all important elements of interpreting poetic passages in the OT.
How much of the Bible is poetic?
Following are Some Characteristics of the Interpretation of Poetry
Almost all emotions are expressed in Psalms somewhere. Read the following Psalms when you can:
Following are the different rules for interpreting poetry over prose:
In this section we will discuss the prophetic books:
Hermeneutical Principles for Interpreting Prophecy
I presented this section in one of my Sunday lessons on Joel. Thus, I have provided the handout with the “notes” all filled in, and I will not cover them here. I leave this as an exercise for the reader. I encourage you to go through the principles and try to understand them as well as you can.
The Value of the Prophetic Books for the Christian Today
This section will discuss some of the special hermeneutics for the two apocalyptic books, Daniel and Revelation. These books focus primarily on things that will occur in the end times.
Distinctive Features of Apocalyptic Literature
Numerous conclusions from these two premises are:
Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature
There is a connectedness in Biblical apocalyptic literature. Later visions at times draw on earlier ones. Later books allude to earlier ones. Even later symbolism may be interpreted based on earlier symbolism.
The Millennium Question