What genres do we find in the Bible?
Part I of Bites on the Bible with Darrell Bock.
Darrell Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, explains what the Bible is.
DARRELL BOCK: The Bible is the sacred text of both Judaism – the Old Testament part, or what would be called the Hebrew Scriptures, made up of 39 books, and the New Testament, made up of 27 books – written between about 1400 BC to the first century AD, so a long period of time. It tells the story of God’s activity and engagement with humanity, starting first with a people, Israel, who were formed to represent him and who carried his law; and then followed up by the focus on a person, Jesus Christ, for the Christian faith, who is the Saviour and the Son of God.
Now, what kind of work is this? There’s law, that’s actually the first part of the Old Testament; then there’s a history that tells the story of Israel’s people; there are prophets who deal with the interactions of Israel in her history, and in some cases, challenge the people to be more faithful; there is wisdom literature and psalms, those are praise materials of God on the one hand and wisdom about how to live life. That’s the Old Testament.
In the New Testament we have four gospels, telling the story of Jesus Christ; the book of Acts, which is the history of the earliest church; and then a series of letters written to churches in the earliest generation of Christians; and finally, the book of Revelation, which reveals the program of God and where it’s headed, all the way to its resolution.
Now, what kind of a book is this, as far as Christians and Jews are concerned? Well, it’s this combination of human material, written and inspired with God standing behind it, so it’s divine and human simultaneously: ultimately divine in what is called its inspiration, that it’s breathed-out in a sense by God, he inspires what’s written; and yet in the same time it’s written by human beings, in human words, and through genres and other kinds of literary forms that people will get and understand.