Literary Genres of Scripture
About 3,500 years ago on Mt. Sinai, God gave Moses His words on two stone tablets “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Tony Reinke, in his book Lit!, captures well the eternal significance of this moment, “The One who created the cosmos by the word of his mouth in the beginning, the one who invented human language in Eden, the One who spread languages across the land at Babel, now put pen to paper – or finger to stone – and wrote.”
That was just the beginning. Over the span of nearly 1,600 years, God, through the Holy Spirit, superintended the writing process of nearly 40 human authors producing the 66 books of our Bible. In one bound volume, the human authors, under the Spirit’s inspiration, communicated the truth of God’s self-revelation, God’s dealings with His people and His redemptive plan in various types of literature called literary genres. For example,
- When Moses wrote about the story of the Exodus or Luke wrote an account of the early church in Acts, they chose a literary form called Historical Narrative.
- When the writers communicated transcendent truths, they turned to the symbolic language of Apocalyptic Literature found in books like Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation.
- When Matthew, Mark, Luke and John retold the story and proclaimed the significance of Jesus Christ, they did so through a unique literary genre called a Gospel.
- At other times, a letter seemed the best way to communicate, as evidenced by the numerous letters (or Epistles) in the New Testament written by the Apostles Paul, Peter, James and John.
- But that’s not all. The writers also communicated God’s truth through Poetry (like Psalms), Wisdom Literature (like Proverbs or Job) and through the Prophetic oracles of judgment and salvation (like Isaiah and Jeremiah).
How we study our Bible is important. Approaching the biblical text with a better grasp of each literary genre is crucial to understanding the inspired meaning of the text, because God’s truth is delivered to us differently in each kind of literary genre. That’s how this course can help.
On these pages you will find video lessons from the Preaching and Literary Genre Curriculum of The Simeon Course on Biblical Exposition. This course will provide you with tools to rightly interpret and understand truth from the Bible’s different literary genres.
The course is made up of six units comprised of instructional videos by a variety of teachers, a study guide accompanying each genre, and worksheets to aid you in processing each lesson’s material.
Preaching and Literary Genre Lessons
1. John Woodhouse - Preaching the Old Testament: Must We?
2. John Woodhouse - Old Testament Narrative: The Context Is the Key
3. John Woodhouse - Old Testament Narrative: Preaching Christ
4. John Woodhouse - How Old Testament Narratives Work
5. David R. Helm - Finding the Structure in Epistles
6. Philip G. Ryken - Principles for Preaching the Epistles: Romans 6
7. Mark Dever - The Main Theme(s) of Romans
8. David Jackman - How to Handle Old Testament Poetry
9. David Jackman - How Wisdom Literature Works
10. Doug O’Donnell - Preaching from Wisdom Literature
11. Paul R. House - Preaching from the Minor Prophets
12. Barry Webb - Preaching Themes from the Major Prophets
13. Paul R. House - Preaching from a Minor Prophet: Amos
14. D.A. Carson - Preaching Apocalyptic: Understanding an Alien Genre
15. D.A. Carson - Preaching Apocalyptic: And Where Is Jesus?
16. D.A. Carson - Preaching Apocalyptic: Its Function and Usefulness
17. David R. Helm - Finding the Structure in Apocalyptic Literature
18. Jonathan T. Pennington - An Introduction to the Gospels and Acts: Context
19. Robert S. Kinney - Finding the Structure in the Gospels and Acts
20. Robert S. Kinney - How to Preach from the Parables
Information and course outline of the Simeon Course on Biblical Exition used with permission from The Simeon Trust.