Anda di halaman 1dari 15

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

Note:
To know your assigned literary genre, a number has been assigned to you. Each
number has a corresponding genre. Others were assigned to present the epistles
and the Gospels which has no corresponding numbers.
To add more information about your assigned literature, please read other sources.
In addition, know the meaning and description of your genre and its use. Make
sure that youll be able to explain the biblical verse (example) that youll use in
your presentation.
If youre assigned to present an epistle and a Gospel, research on the following:
1. Who is the author of the epistle or Gospel? When was it written?
2. Why was it written? To whom it was addressed?
3. Whats the main message of this epistle or Gospel?
(Cite a biblical verse for example)
4. How would you describe this epistle or Gospel?
5. Whats the symbolical image of this Gospel?
2. Literary forms / Genres of the Bible
The study of the literary forms and genre of the different pericope in the
Bible plays a very significant role in Biblical interpretation. This study allows the
people to recognize that there are many types of literature. The authors always
choose a vehicle through which they send a message to the readers. By there
choice of genre, the authors are able to signal the readers how to take the
message they want to convey.1 It is for this reason that a thorough understanding
of the Biblical genre is of great importance.
The genre pertains to a group of texts that bear one or more traits in
common with each other. The said texts may be similar in content, structure
phraseology, function and or style. Below are some examples of the different
genre of Literature found in the Bible.
2.1 Aetiology: Etiology (alternately aetiology, aitiology) is the study of
causation. It is derived from the Greek meaning 'concerned with causes',
and so can refer to myths as well as to medical and philosophical theories.2
In connection to this, as a literary genre, it is a story which attempts to
explain the origin or the cause of a phenomenon of nature, condition,
custom or institution.3 This type of literature allows reader to realize how God
1

Raymond B. Dillard and T. Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament (England: Apollos, 1995) p.30

Wikipedia, Etiology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aetiology

3 William W. Klein and C.I. Blomberg, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Dallas: World Publishing,
1993), p. 327

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

communicates His message in varied ways so as to address different types of


people in the most particular manner. One must take causation not to take
the attempt of the aetiology as scientifically factual. It should rather be
understood in the light of Faith.
One Old Testament example in this regard is the story of Lot's wife in
Genesis 19 (specifically 26). It explains why there are pillars of salt in the area
of the Dead Sea.
2.2 Allegory: It speaks of similitude which involves levels of meaning. It can
also be understood as an extended metaphor or symbol that aims at
establishing a relationship between two objects in a systematic manner.4 In
this type of literature, like that of a parable, one realizes how God
communicates His will and precepts in a disarming manner. Conversion is
expected of readers after understanding His message through this type of
literature.
One good example of this type comes from Hosea 2 where his marriage
story serves as an allegory of Gods relationship to Israel as a nation.
Matthew 22:1-14 is a good New Testament example of this type since it
communicates levels of meaning (refer to table 1.1). This passage pertains to
an allegory of a wedding feast. In the said passage the meaning of the
allegory lies on the actual level and not the formal one.
Table 1.1
Formal Level (Referent)
King

Actual Level (Meaning)


God

Son

Jesus

Feast

Banquet

Servant

Apostles

Invited Guests

The Nation of Israel

Those accepting the invitation

Church (converts)

Wedding garments

Righteousness

Excluded guest

Those found unworthy

2.2.1 Allegory through Parables - Other examples can be seen


through the parables in the New Testament. The parables in the
4

Tate, 73

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

gospels range from similitude to true parables to allegories. One sees


this in Matthew 13:33-35. Here the parable of the leaven is a similitude,
because it is an illustration from everyday life, while the parable of the
prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32 is a true parable, because it is a story
that has a beginning and an end. The parable of the vineyard owner
in Mark 12:1-11 is closer to an allegory, because it has a number of
details that have corresponding conceptual meaning.
2.2.2 Allegories compared to Parables - While a parable is an
extended simile, an allegory is an extended metaphor. The allegory of
the vine and the branches in John 15, for example, develops the
metaphors of Christ as the true vine (vs. 1,5), the Father as the
vinedresser (vs. 1), and believers as the branches (vs. 5).
2.2.3 Allegories containing Comparison - Allegorical stories have
several points of comparison. In John 10:1-18, the allegory of the good
shepherd draws a point-by-point comparison between a number of
elements (the door of the sheepfold, the shepherd, the sheep, the
thief, and the hireling) and corresponding spiritual truths.
2.2.4 Allegories in a Continuum of elusive and explicit meaning Allegories also range on a continuum from the elusive to the explicit.
In some, the details obviously point to a corresponding group of
concepts, as in the allegory of the good shepherd; in others, the
thematic implications of the images are less clear.
Jesus told the parable of the soils to the multitudes but explained
the spiritual application of each point of the story to His disciples
(Matt. 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20). While parables use realistic imagery,
allegories often use words in a figurative rather than literal sense. The
parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) uses "sheep" literally, but the
allegory of the good shepherd uses "sheep" figuratively; the parable of
the vineyard owner (Luke 20:9-21) uses "vineyard" literally, but the
allegory of the vine and the branches uses "vine" figuratively.
The allegories in the Old Testament include Israel as a vine in Psalm
80:8-15, the woman of folly in Proverbs 7, the allegory of old age in
Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, and the allegory of the two sisters in Ezekiel 23.
New Testament allegories include the foundation and superstructure
in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:11-17.
On rare occasions, the New Testament allegorizes Old Testament
narratives that were not intended to teach truth by correspondence.
Paul does this in Galatians 4:21-31 when he turns the story of Hagar
and Sarah into an allegory of law and grace.

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

2.3 Apocalyptic Genre: It is the revelation made by God concerning hidden


things employing all kinds of imagery and symbolism which appeal to the
imagination of the ancients: visions, dreams, numbers, colors, fantastic
beasts, and bizarre figures.
Apocalyptic genre can be characterized into five major divisions. 5
2.3.1 Cosmic - The first classification is cosmic apocalypse. This
type makes characters move with ease between heaven, earth
and hell. It also presents conflicts between angels and deities.
2.3.2 Cosmological - The second example is apocalyptic
cosmology. This type is dualistic in the sense that it relates
stories about the equal existence of good and evil in the
universe.
2.3.3 Eschatological - The third type is an eschatological
apocalypse. Its focus is the end time of history.
2.3.4 Mystical - The fourth type involves ecstatic visions, dreams,
or supernatural journeys.
2.3.5 Symbolic - The last is an apocalypse that is highly symbolic
in nature.
2.4 Detective Story: This type of literary genre is consists of a mystery and
suspense. It relates stories involving characters unraveling a problem, some
accounts of evidences pointing to a culprit. It also illustrates the vindication
of the innocent or the just. The same message of love and salvation are still
conveyed in this literary genre yet it is communicated in a different and
creative manner.6 Through a detective story the message communicated
and is certainly able to draw the attention and convince those of witty
minds.
The story of Susanna in the book of Daniels (13:1-64) serves as a good
example in this regard. Other examples of this type found in the book of
Daniel include, Dan. 14:1-22 which narrates the story of Daniel and the
priests of Bel and Dan. 14:23-42 which is about Daniel and the dragon.
2.5 Epistle or Letter: It is a formal letter, especially applied to ancient writings
of sacred character or of literary excellence. It alludes to correspondence
of a prophet (for the Old Testament) or apostle (for the New Testament) to

Cf. Tate, 148

Bragado, 58

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

another person or to a community on a doctrinal or pastoral matter.7 Like


that of a prophesy, through the letters one also realizes how God wanted to
guide His people back to Him that He communicates and even sends
instruments to instruct His people into acquiring salvation. Openness and
docility are, of course, expected from the believers in this regard, for without
these (openness and docility) the words of the prophet or apostles will be a
platitude.
Both the Old and the New Testament contain Biblical passages that
take an Epistle for its genre. Jeremiah 29, for example, is a letter sent by the
prophet from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders, priests, prophets, and
people in the Babylonian captivity.
Examples of Epistles:
The Pauline Epistles

Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

The General Epistles

Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John

Ibid

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

Jude

2.6 Fable: It is a fictitious narrative intended to enforce a useful truth or a moral


lesson. It takes the form of a short story embodying a lesson and introducing
animals and inanimate things as actors and persons.8 This type of literature
teaches one that Gods message of salvation and love are offered even to
the simplest minds of children. God wants everyone to understand His word. It
invites people to appreciate how God adjust to their situation.
A Fable should not be mistaken with a Parable since the latter
describes what is likely or probable, or at any rate what is believed by the
hearers as probable, while the former is not limited by such considerations.
Fables, as previously mentioned, are used to impossibilities, such as tress, or
animals and inanimate things behaving like human beings.9
The fable of the trees in Judges 9:8-15 (interpreted and applied in
9:16-20) is one that exemplifies this type in the Old Testament. In this pericope,
one sees how the trees were illustrated as engaged into a dialogue like
human beings. Here Jotham tells how trees sought a king among various trees
and vines but found only a thorn bush who is willing to serve.10
2.7 Gospel: It literally means good news since the Greek word euagngelion
from which it is derived means "good news" or "glad tidings. The Gospels are
writings that are primarily containing accounts of Jesus life. It does not
communicate a strict biographical account but rather a collection of Christs
teachings and ministry. Each of the Gospels would elucidate the account in
different view points. These books are neither merely mythical nor simply
historical since they have theological intentions that are historical in nature.11
The good news about salvation in Christ was first proclaimed orally and
later written in the unique literary form known as the gospels. They are highly
episodic and do not fit the other literary categories like heroic narrative. The
unifying theme of the gospels is the person and work of Jesus Christ who is
portrayed not merely as an example to be followed, but as the way to eternal
life and the rightful object of humanitys supreme allegiance. Though they are

8 Cf.

Bragado, p. 57

E.W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated (Michigan:Baker
Book House,1993), p. 753
10

William W. Klein and C.I. Blomberg, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Dallas: World
Publishing, 1993), p. 338
11

Wikipedia, Gospel, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

full of biographical material, the gospels are really thematic portraits of the
God-man, taken from four different perspectives.12
The Four Gospels: Matthew / Mark / Luke / John

2.8 History: This type of Biblical literature treats Gods revelation of Himself in
the framework of events. It presents the chosen peoples encounter with God
and their response to that encounter. It pertains to reports that are written with
more literary elaboration than an ordinary report. It takes a form of lengthy
document that focuses on a particular subject or historical era. Accordingly,
the said reports develop a rudimentary plot. This plot entails a movement of
scenes from tension to resolution. It also records the dialogue and speeches of
the characters involved. In addition to this, a historical account also includes
dramatic literary touches.13
Through this type of literature, one appreciates how God has continuously
been journeying with His people. This realization should allow one to be more
trusting on Him. It should give the person a confidence in his/her daily
endeavors mindful that God is always with him/her.
A good example of this type is Exodus 14 where the writer reports about
the escape of the Israelites from Egypt and how the Pharaoh chased them in
the desert. 2 Kings 17:1 is also a good example. It states that in the twelfth year
of Ahaz King of Judah, Hoshua son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria,
and he reigned nine years. Other examples include 1 Sam. 11:1-11; 2 Sam
9-20; 1 Kings1-2; 2 Sam. 11:1-12:25; 1 Kings 22:1-38; 1 kings 12:1-20,20:1-43; 2
Kings; Ps. 78, 105, 106; and Judge 9:1-21.
2.9 Hyperbole: Largely synonymous with exaggeration and overstatement, this
type of literary genre is a figure of speech in which statements are
exaggerated or extravagant. It may be used due to strong feelings or is used
to create a strong impression. The message of this type is not meant to be
taken literally since it gives greater emphasis to the point it wants to
communicate.14 It is often used in poetry and is a literary device. In hyperbole,
the writer or speaker exaggerates to create a strong effect to its reader.
In the book of Judges one reads a hyperbole that says, "Every one
could sling a stone at a hair's breadth and not miss" (Judg. 20:16). In the book
12

Cf. Eugene A. Laverdiere, S.S.S., Literary Forms of the Bible, New American Bible (Makati City: St Pauls,
2004), p. 1458-63
13

Cf, Klein, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, p. 328

14 E.W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated (Michigan:Baker
Book House,1993), p. 424

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

of psalms one sees, "I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed
swim; I drench my couch with my tears" (Ps. 6:6). Other Old Testament
hyperbole includes Genesis 22:17, 1 Kings 1:40, Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy
1:28; Psalm 107:26.
The New Testament also contains a good collection of hyperbole. Some
of its examples are found in the Gospels such as that of Matthew that states,
"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your
eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:4). Another example is
found in the last chapter of John that states, "And there are also many other
things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John
21:25).
2.10 Irony: This literary genre refers to a passage with double-layered
meaning. It also points to a mode of speech of which the meaning is contrary
to the words. It is an expression that denotes the opposite of what is meant by
the words themselves. This is because, in Irony, the speaker intends to convey
a sense contrary to the words he/she uses. This is done not intentionally hide
the meaning but simply for the purpose of adding impact to it.15. Through the
irony, one realizes how God communicates His will and precepts in a
disarming manner. Conversion is expected of readers after learning from it.
One good example of this type is found in 1 Kings 18:27 where the
prophet presents the irony of god and the characteristics the prophets
describes of Him. The prophet goes on to say, "And so it was, at noon, that
Elijah mocked them and said, 'Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is
meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and
must be awakened.'"
2.11 Legal codes: This literary type speaks of laws, commandments, rules of
conduct. It points even to rules governing physical hygiene and dietary
regulation.16 This serves as guide to ones day-to-day living. Through this we
realize how God wanted to guide His people back to Him that He
communicates to them even minute details of acquiring salvation. Openness
and docility are, of course, expected from the believers in this regard, for
without this two the laws and the precepts will loose its meaning.
The Dcalogue or 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5
is one good example of this type. Other examples include the laws contain in
the following verses: Ex. 21:1-11; Lev. 6:1-7; Ex. 23:10-11.
15

Cf. Ibid, p. 808

16

Cf. Bragado, p.

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

2.12 Metaphor: John Gabel defines it as the word that is literal in contexts in
which it is usually found and is taken out of those contexts and used in a
context of some other kind. It illuminates, clarifies or completes abstract idea
by replacing it with something observable, familiar and concrete. So while a
Simile gently states one thing is like or resembles another, the metaphor boldly
and warmly declares that one thing IS the other. Metaphor is not so true to
fact as the Simile, but is much truer to feelings.17 The effect of the metaphor
varies according to how much commonality there is between the abstract
idea and the object.
In the Old Testament, one sees lots of metaphors like what is
contained in Psalm 23. The Psalm goes:
1 The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

In the first verse of this passage, one observes how God was
metaphorically depicted as a shepherd who tends His people. He is one who
does to His people more than any other earthly shepherd can do to his sheep.
The second verse uses the metaphor of green pastures to allude to peace
while the restoration of soul in verse three metaphorically points to healing. In
addition to this, guidance to right path in the same verse points to God
Himself as the righteousness and the person being righteous in Him. The fourth
verse is a metaphor of Gods presence and the fifth verse represents Gods
defense in the persons behalf together with the sanctification He brings

17

Cf. E.W. Bullinger, p. 735

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

about. The last verse is also a beautiful metaphor about the salvation that
God will bring about.18
Some examples of metaphor in the New Testament include Matthew
Thirteens You are the salt of the earth; Matthew Twenty Sixs words of Jesus
This is my Body; and Matthew Thirty Eights The good seed are the children
of the Kingdom.19
2.13 Midrash: As one of the literary genre found in the Bible, this type is an
imaginative reconstruction of a biblical episode. It is the retelling of a Biblical
story with the aim of bringing out its meaning for later generations. Thus, it
has edifying lessons or meditations on an earlier biblical utterance.20 Through
this type of literature one realizes the immensity of Gods love. This should
enable one to develop a reciprocal love on Him.
Jacob Neusner in his book What is Midrash21 , proposed three types of
midrashic exegesis. He calls them Paraphrase, prophesy and parable.
2.13.1. Paraphrase Midrash- The paraphrase midrash is a simple
process of rereading a particular passage. It aims at amplifying and
clarifying vague passages. This process is done by supplying synonym,
telling an illustrative story, giving a word-for-word explanation, or
introducing another verse. For example, analysis shows that the first
five verses of the Gospel of John is a rereading of the first five verses of
Genesis (see Table 1.1). Another example that we find in the New
Testament is the infancy narrative that we find in both the Gospel of
Matthew and Luke. In this regard, the process of telling an illustrative
story is done.
Table 1.1
Genesis 1:1-5

18

Cf. Bullinger, p. 737-738

19

Ibid, p. 738-739

John 1:1-5

20

Cf. Eugene A. Laverdiere, S.S.S., Literary Forms of the Bible, New American Bible (Makati City: St Pauls,
2004), p. 1458-63
21

Jacob Neusner, What Is Midrash? (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987)

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

1 In the beginning God created the heavens 1In the beginning was the Word, and the
and the earth.
Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was with God in the beginning.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep, 3Through him all things were made; without
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the him nothing was made that has been made.
waters.
4In him was life, and that life was the light of
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but
there was light. 4 God saw that the light was the darkness has not understood it.
good, and He separated the light from the
darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and
the darkness he called "night." And there was
evening, and there was morningthe first
day.
2.13.2 Prophesy Midrash- The next type of midrash, which Neusner
classifies as prophesy, identifies a contemporary event or situation with
a scriptural passage. The original meaning or historical frame of
reference is not lost in this regard. The reference simply makes sense or
gives meaning to the present or future situation. It is for this reason that
one finds in the bible passages that gives meaning to what is currently
happening in society. It is very much similar to what people do with
Nostradamus prophesy every time a big event explodes. Neusner
explains that Midrash as prophesy treats the historical life of ancient
Israel and the contemporary time of the exegete as essentially the
same, reading the former as a prefiguring of the latter.22
Matthew 1:22-23 of the New Testament is good example of this
type. In the said pericope, Matthew engaged in a prophetic Midrash
by quoting Isaiah 7:14. Matthew says, All this took place to fulfill what
had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Look, the virgin
shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.
The same evangelist gives us another example by interpreting the
words of Hosea (11:1 is a statement that refers to the Exodus of people
of Israel from Egypt) to apply to an event that happened in the life of
Jesus in Matthew 2:14-15. The evangelist goes on to say, Then Joseph
got up, took the child and his mother by the night, and went to Egypt,
and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what
had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, Out of Egypt I
have called my son.

22

Neusner, What Is Midrash? p.25

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

2.13.3 Parable Midrash- The third type of midrash, a parable, is similar


to if not identical with allegorical interpretation. In this regard, the
more profound or authentic meaning of the statement or event is not
the obvious historical or literal one. Instead, scripture is interpreted in
terms which the author never intended.23 Romans 10:5-13 is a good
example of this type since Paul in the said letter proclaims the
meaning of what Moses has said. Epistles like 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 and
1 Peter 2:4-8 also serve as good examples. Passages from Hebrews like
1:5-14; 5:4-6 and 7:11-22 also fall in this type since one observes here
that some passages the originally referred to Yaweh, David and others
are already applied to Jesus.
2.14 Miracle Stories: It is a type of a narrative which expresses the
manifestation of the different wonders that God has shown to be able to
draw people to Him. In the Old Testament, miracles are understood as signs
and wonders of Gods presence; in the New Testament, miracle stories are
signs of messianic salvation.24 This type of literature fascinates and leads
people into belief. Here, one realizes how God would try to amaze people so
that they will be drawn to Him. Faith and trust are of course expected of
readers by this type of literature.
Both the Old and the New Testaments express a lot of miracles. On the one
hand the Old Testament expresses the wonderful and magnificent works
performed by Yahweh. This includes the miracle of the manna and the quails.
The New Testament on the other hand relates the various miracles that Jesus
has performed. This includes the healing of the blind man, the multiplication
of loaves and fishes, the casting out of evil spirits, etc.
2.15 Myth: This literary genre is a sacred story concerning the origins of the
world or how the world and the creatures in it came to have their present
form. Generally speaking, the active beings in myths are gods and heroes. In
saying that a myth is a sacred narrative, what is meant is that a myth is
believed to be true by people who attach religious or spiritual significance to
it. Use of the term by scholars does not imply that the narrative is either true or
false sine its statement rises beyond time and space. It is profoundly a true
statement which speaks to universal aspects of life and reality. 25
Myths are symbolic expressions of religious truth or ultimate realities. Through
this type of literature one realizes how powerful God is that one can only
imagine it and cannot entirely explain it. This should move people to be more
23

Cf. Tate, p.131

24

Bragado, p.

25

Cf. Laverdiere, S.S.S., Literary Forms of the Bible, p. 1458-63

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

dependent on God who has the unfathomable power to take care of all
humanity.
The creation story of Genesis 1 and 2 serves as a good example of this
literary type. In the said Bible pericope, one sees how the writer
communicates a story about the origin of all things alluding to a very powerful
creator. Another good biblical example is the story of the origin of Nephilim26
and the great flood in Genesis 6-9. Reading the account may lead one to
doubt the truth behind the story. But like what is mentioned earlier, one
cannot simply judge Myths as true or false since it is symbolic of religious truths
and ultimate realities. In this regard, one must realize that there are over
80,000 accounts of a worldwide flood among the various cultures on the
Earth. It is then just normal to doubt how so many peoples, tribes and tongues
would have a worldwide flood recorded in their own histories if it had not
happened? It's hard to find a people on this planet that does not have it in its
history. One of the most famous is the "Epic of Gilgamesh." 27 Other examples
include Isaiah 11:6-9 and Isaiah 44:26-28
2.16 Parable- It is a short narrative in the form of an extended metaphor that
makes a moral or religious point by comparison with natural or homely things.
It subverts worldly values and invites conversion by a reorientation to the
values of the Kingdom. It also uses short stories to teach a truth or answer a
question. While the story in a parable is not historical, it is true to life, not a fairy
tale. As a form of oral literature, the parable exploits realistic situations but
makes effective use of the imagination.28
Parables have one central point; the details are not meant to call
attention to themselves but to reinforce this single theme. In most parables,
assigning allegorical meanings to each of the details can lead to confusion
and obscure the point. Through parables one realizes how God
communicates His will and precepts in a disarming manner. Conversion is
expected of readers after learning from the parables.
The Old Testament writers seldom used this type of literature. But among
the few instances two serve as good examples. One is when the prophet
Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-14 told King David how a greedy rich man stole a
poor mans only lamb to feed a visiting guest. The story which is a juridical
parable that alludes to Davids adultery and act of murder caused him to
26 In the Torah and several non-canonical Jewish and early Christian writings, the word nephilim (Hebrew,
, those causing others to fall) is used for a people created by the crossbreeding of the sons of God (b'nei elohim,
) and the "daughters of men." This word is loosely translated as giants or titans in some translations of the
Bible. Some other Biblical texts simply used the said word, nephilim.
27

Cf. Tate, p. 38

28

Cf. Klein, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, p. 338

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

face his sin. The next is when the preacher in Ecclesiastes 9:13-15 related how
the wisdom of a poor man had once saved a besieged town but that
afterward none remembered him. Here, the passage tells the reader that
wisdom is better than strength even if people disregard it.29
Jesus in the Gospels used a lot of parables in teaching His disciples at that
time. He frequently composed parables in His teaching ministry (see Mark
4:34) and used them in response to specific situations and challenges. His
parables are drawn from he spheres of domestic and family life as well as
business and political affairs. He used imagery that was familiar to His hearers
to guide them to the unfamiliar. Some of the parables were designed to
reveal mysteries to those on the inside and to conceal the truth to those on
the outside who would not hear (Matt. 13:10-17; Mark 4:10-12). This was
especially true of the parables that related to the kingdom of God. However,
other parables like the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and
the parable of the landowner (Matt. 22:33-46) could be grasped by
unbelievers.
A good joke produces the spontaneous response of laughter. If the joke
must be explained, it loses its impact. In a similar way, a parable must be
"caught" by the hearer. The story parables (e.g., the Good Samaritan, the
prodigal son, the workers in the vineyard, the rich man and Lazarus, the wise
and foolish virgins) are all designed to elicit a response from the hearers. The
moment it is grasped, the point of the parable penetrates like the point of an
arrow. Nathan's parable of the rich man who slaughtered the poor man's
lamb sank into David like a shaft when Nathan said, "You are the man!" (2
Sam. 12:1-7). As soon as David caught the parable, he was caught by it.
2.17 Poetry: In its most general stance, poetry is sophisticatedly structured and
compact. Hebrew poetry is no exception in this regard. Poetry is highly stylized
language that usually easy to distinguished from prose stories It is consists of
parallelisms, balance, rhythm, and it makes use of metaphors, similes, and
other exaggerations. Again, through this type of literature we realize how God
communicates His message in varied ways so as to address different types of
people in the most particular manner. Examples of this type are found in the
Book of Psalms; poetic passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Job
2.18 Prophecy: This genre recounts events in the life of a prophet, particularly
those that demonstrate virtues worthy of emulation and theologically critique
the world in which the storys readers lived.30 It is composed of oracles or
utterances of the spokesman or mouthpiece of God expressing threat,
29 Cf.

Klein, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, p. 338

30 Cf.

Ibid

Richard_Balang@2014_Theology&ReligiousEducationDepartment

promise, reproach, or admonition. These serve as warning and guide to the


people. Through them one realizes how God wanted to guide His people
back to Him that He communicates to them and even sends people to
instruct them into acquiring salvation.
This type of Biblical genre has two purposes. First is to edify its
audience by presenting the prophet as a model of proper conduct. Second it
aims at discrediting the larger politico-religious system for its denial of Yahweh
as its sovereign lord. Openness and docility are expected from the believers in
this regard, for without the said virtues the words of the prophets will be a
platitude. The Old Testament is filled with examples of this genre like Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, etc.
2.19 Wisdom Literature-. This genre is characterized by praise of God, often in
poetic form, and by sayings of wisdom intended to teach about God and
about virtue. Scholars say that this genre of literature is common in the
Ancient Near East.31 It is composed of maxims, proverbs and counsel of the
sages on proper conduct. It also contain reflections on the meaning and
problems of life and of good and evil. In this type, one realizes that God also
addresses the sophisticated minds. He talks to the intellectuals as much as he
does to the simple minded. Appreciation of Gods flexibility in addressing
each and every person is also expected from the readers in terms of the
understating of this type of literature. The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the
Wisdom of Solomon, Job and Sirah are some of its examples.

31 Cf.

Wikipedia, Wisdom Literature, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_literature