ImmerseBeginnings NLT - Flipbook - Page 355
T he L iterar y F orms of the bible
in a later part of that story. Most sermons in the Bible are found within
narratives, but the book of Hebrews comprises four sermons that were
collected and then sent out in the same letter.
The book of Deuteronomy is a series of sermons by Moses to the
people of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land. Parts
of it take the form of a treaty that high kings would make with the kings
who served them. The Ten Commandments are a miniature version of
that kind of treaty.
• Prayers. These are addressed to God and are usually offered in a public
setting in the Bible, though sometimes they are private. They can include
praise, thanksgiving, confession, and requests.
• Lists. Many kinds of lists are found in the Bible. One of the most common
types, genealogy, is a record of a person’s ancestors or descendants.
The Bible also includes lists of things like offerings, building materials,
assigned territories, stops along journeys, court officials, population
counts, and so on. Lists in the Bible are not merely informative but usually make a theological point or provide verification of someone’s connection to God’s people.
Hebrew poetry is based not on the repetition of sound (rhyme) but on
the repetition of meaning. Its essential unit, the couplet, features a form
of parallelism. One line states something, and the next line repeats, contrasts, or elaborates on the first line, intensifying its meaning. This feature
is sometimes expanded to a triplet (three-line unit) for greater emphasis.
Poetry frequently uses metaphors and other figurative language to communicate messages with greater strength and emotion.
• Proverbs. These are short sayings, typically two lines in length (though
sometimes longer), that teach practical lessons for life in God’s world.
Proverbs are not necessarily promises about how things will work out;
mainly they are descriptions of wise ways to live.
• Songs. Poetry set to music. In the Bible, songs are used primarily for
celebration or for mourning (in which case they are called laments). They
are often found within narratives, but some books of the Bible are whole
collections of songs.
Psalms are songs used by people gathered for worship. These songs
are most often addressed to God as prayers set to music.
• Oracles. These are messages from God delivered by prophets. In the
Bible, oracles are most often recorded in poetry; originally, they may