Ouxano: The Literary Aspect of the Old Testament

Ouxano: The Literary Aspect of the Old Testament March 25, 2014

The Literary Aspect of the Old Testament refers to the things that are there within the text that you need to be paying attention to or looking for as you read.

The first thing to remember is:  don’t over look the obvious.  What I mean is this – most of the Old Testament historical writings have what is known as a Divine Narrator.  They call it that because the Narrator of the story often offers “behind the scenes” information about what is really going on, which helps you understand the flow of the story. 

And example of this is seen in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 (NLT)

13 So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium 14 instead of asking the Lord for guidance. So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

The second thing to keep in mind is to look for the intended audience.  In other words, to whom was this section originally written to and why was it written?

One example is the Book of Ruth.  Until you get to the very end of the book, it seems like merely a redemptive love story – disconnected from the other Old Testament texts.  However, in Ruth 4:18-22, we see a clue in regards to the intended audience:

18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.

19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.

20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.

21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.

22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.

It’s important that Boaz’s connection to King David comes last.  It shows that Ruth was written in some ways as a justification for David’s royal lineage and to show further evidence of the deeply seeded love and care for foreigners and the downtrodden, even generations before Israel’s great king.

The next thing you want to remember as you read the Bible is to look for repetition.  The more something is repeated, the more probable it is that God wants us to pay attention to it.

We see examples throughout the New Testament, starting with the four Gospels, which repeat the story of Jesus’ life.  In the Old Testament, we see repeated warnings given to the Israelites regarding idolatry, immorality, neighborly conduct, etc.

Lastly, you want to read from many different translations of the Bible (New Living Translation, New International Version, New American Standard, The Message, etc.) and never be afraid to check with a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia for additional information and context of what you are reading.

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