Literary Styles in the Bible

The Bible is not just one book. It’s a whole library of books with a variety of literary styles.

Screenshot: YouTube

D. Thomas Lancaster


Bible literary styles thebibleproject

What kind of books do you like? Do you like mysteries? How about science fiction? Fantasy? Maybe you prefer romance novels (yuck!). Or do you like to curl up with a book of poetry? The different types of books belong to different genres. They are like different species of literature.

That’s one of the reasons the Bible is difficult to read and understand. It’s not just one book, it’s a whole library of books, and the books belong to different genres. To make sense out of a book in the Bible, it helps a lot to know something about its genre.

This is lesson three in our 12-21 series on how to train your Bible. To get the most out of your Bible, you have to train it. These six-minute videos from are helping us do that.

In lesson one, “What Is the Bible?”, we got an overview of the literature in the Bible. In lesson two, “The Story of the Bible”, we learned about the overarching story of the Bible that ties it all together. In this lesson, we are going to learn about the different types of literary genres at work in the Bible.

Basically, we can divide the Bible into three types of literature: narrative, poetry, and instruction. Take six minutes out of your day and watch the video:

This lesson discusses the power of narrative and storytelling, the art of poetry, and force of reason and instruction. The best takeaway in the lesson comes at 1:50-2:01 where the following exchange takes place:

Question: Since these are Bible stories, are the characters showing me how I should live?

Answer: Yeah, that’s not quite the point. Most Bible characters are deeply flawed. You should not be like them.

About the Author

D. Thomas Lancaster is Director of Education at First Fruits of Zion, the author of the Torah Club programs and several books and study programs. He is also the pastor of Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, WI.


Bible literary styles thebibleproject

Screenshot: YouTube

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