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Genres of Scripture

I have been enjoying reading this month’s book club book, Women of the Word. Though the month is almost over, it is a quick read, and you can still join in! You can read all the details here. 

One of the things that I have wanted to blog about for awhile is about the genres of Scripture. Many don’t know that there are different genres, or what exactly that means. Understanding the genre of Scripture that you are reading will greatly help you as you study God’s Word. It is important when studying to know what you are reading, so that you can know better how to interpret it. Knowing the genre that you are reading will help a lot.

Different authors and scholars have a different number of genres that they think there are, but I just wanted to give a little overview of several of some of the genres. Some books contain multiple genres, while others are only one genre. Understand what kind of literature as well as the audience and historical context will help us better interpret and apply Scripture to our lives.

genresofscripture

Law – There are several books of law in Scripture. They are sometimes skipped over or though of as boring, but they always point us back to the perfection and character of God. The law is not to make us feel guilty for all the ways that we don’t measure up, but instead it is meant to point us to God, because He has conquered the law.

Narrative or History – There are many places in Scripture where we see stories recorded as narratives. We see this in both the Old and New Testaments. Most Old Testament books contain some portions of history. There are entire Old Testament books in this category such as Jonah and Esther, in the New Testament, we have the book of Acts, as well as portions of the Gospels and other books that are considered as History or Narrative.

Poetry – Poetry is mostly found in the Old Testament, and the most obvious example is the Psalms.

Prophecy – There are many books that include Prophecy such as the books of Daniel and Isaiah. Prophecy shows us that God is faithful, and that He will always do what He has said that He will do.

Wisdom – The wisdom literature such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contrast the wisdom of God with the wisdom of man. It reminds us that we need wisdom from God, as well as dealing with practical issues of life.

Parables – Parables are generally the sayings of Jesus put into a story form. Parables usually only have one main point, so it is important that we don’t over spiritualize Parables and try to make them say something that is not there.

Epistle – Epistles are letters written to a specific group of people. We can learn so much doctrine and practical wisdom from the Epistles, but it is also important that we remember who they were written too. The audience and historical context affect the way that we understand them, and it should be taken into account as we apply them to our own lives.

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Sue Ellen Figueroa

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