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Old Testament Survey

The Bible as Literature



The Bible contains all types of literature. There are narratives, poems, allegories, parables, speeches, letters, and symbolism. Each of these must be recognized, for the symbolism of a poem should be interpreted as symbolism, not as a literal statement. For many, this type of distinction if the most difficult to recognize and account for in attempting to understand the Bible.

Notice, also, that there are different genres of purpose in the biblical literature. The design of Israel&s literature was to teach about the way in which the covenant God, acted in history--especially in view of Israel&s failures and unfaithfulness. These same lessons may be applied to our daily lives as we study God’s Word.

Legal literature declared God&s will which was designed to mold the moral, spiritual, and ethical direction of God’s people.

Historical literature was a revelation of the sovereign work of God based upon the covenants.

Prophetic literature was a declaration of the will of God set in history to judge the nation&s historical dealings and in promise of God&s future blessing.

Wisdom and Poetic Literature is practical direction for life. It looks toward finding a wholeness in the brokenness of life.

Interpretation of Scripture

As we participate in this study, certain rules will assist you in your understanding of the Bible and these materials.

The Bible is God’s written revelation to mankind. In its original manuscript it was inspired by God and without error. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21

The central theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ. We will look at this point later in this Introduction.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with just a few portions in Aramaic). The New Testament was written in Greek. Our English Bible is a translation from these languages.

The word “Testament” means “Covenant” or agreement. The Bible contains several covenants given by God to man. We will look at these throughout the materials.

The Bible is not inconsistent in any form. If you believe a one passage disagrees with another, then you are the one in error, not the Bible.

The Bible is about God, man, sin, redemption, justification, sanctification.

To sum this up in two words, the Bible is about Grace and Glory.

To sum this up in one word, the Bible is about Jesus.

The Bible is concerned with the whole man -- heart, mind, and soul!

One other rule should be imposed – because of the unity of the Scriptures, final interpretations of the Old Testament must be made in light of the existence of the New Testament. This is because all Scripture is about Jesus Christ.

In reading and interpreting Scripture, use the following keys:

Remember, word meanings and “slang” have changed over the centuries. And, remember, it is the illumination of the Holy Spirit which allows you to understand Scripture. Ask God for His help in understanding.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

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December 14, 2019

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