View Full Version : Understanding Scripture class

Oct 22nd 2008, 01:41 AM
For my understanding scripture class next week we are to pick out any passage and study it and figure out what the literary forces are in the passage. I don't know or understand exactly what that means, but maybe someone on here will know. But here is what my pastor gave us about literary forces: Genre-Category, Purpose, Grammer, Word choices, repitition, style in the writing and location on the passage.

First I need help coming up with a passage that would be good to use for this. I don't know the bible well enough to pick out a passage myself. But I was thinking along the lines of picking something in psalms or proverbs or ephesians. I have a whole week to come up with this, so I may pick out two or three different passages to do this with.

Oct 22nd 2008, 03:15 AM
As for my understanind, Literary forces do pertain to what literary elements the passage contains. For example, there is a passage in the old testament where there is a play on words using the names of the cities (Micah 1). Here you have a play on words. This is just an example of a literary force in use. Others might be methaphors etc.. etc.

Oct 25th 2008, 09:20 PM
Moved from NiC to Bible Chat per OP request. :)

Oct 25th 2008, 09:39 PM
Hi Living by faith,

If it means :literary forces: Genre-Category, Purpose, Grammer, Word choices, repitition, as you said.

I`d counsel ya, to choose some book written by David -Psalms as you said, or Solomon- Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Solomon.

Have a good time

Oct 25th 2008, 09:39 PM
Genre-category - explain what category the portion fit in, ie, poetic, prophetic, historical, etc.
Purpose - what is the underlying purpose of this communication of the Spirit to us - explain what it is teaching us
Grammer - what type of grammer is used
Word choices - explain the purpose of the words used. Perhaps provide alternative words
Repetition - what is repeated and why
Style of writing - ie literal, metaphoric, etc.

Psalms would provide a good variety. Much of it, perhaps all of it, it poetic, yet at the same time prophetic and historic. Some is allegoric or metaphoric and literal at the same time.

Oct 25th 2008, 09:57 PM
I have been busy with things and forgot about this assignment and now only have a three days to do it. It's not required to do this, but it sure would be good if I did. My problem is I don't know what scripture would be good to use for this. Any help with that would be appreciated.

Oct 25th 2008, 10:27 PM
you can always do psalm 136 and talk about repetition of "his love endures forever."

Oct 26th 2008, 07:08 AM
I'm sorry, I apologize in advance for how this is going to come out. Please, I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. I try not to be this strong when I say things. But this needs to be said.

Purpose - what is the underlying purpose of this communication of the Spirit to us - explain what it is teaching us

This is wrong. This is completely and totally wrong. Erase this idea from your memory. This is the wrong way to interpret the Bible, and is almost certainly not what your pastor is looking for. PLEASE do not interpret the Bible this way.

The Bible is not written to us. It is NOT a love letter to you from God. I will say it again. The Bible was not written to you, or to me.

Now, God divinely predestined the Bible to be written for us, but it was not written to us, and the distinction is HUGE. Again, the Bible was written for us, but not to us.

The purpose of a passage involved two important questions:

1. What was the original human author trying to communicate to the original audience/recipients of the book through the book as a whole? This is known as the purpose of the book. For books such as psalms, which are collections from many times and authors, we would instead ask the question about the psalm as a whole.

2. How does the passage in question contribute to/accomplish the purpose of the book? Why did the author include this passage? Why did he choose the words he did? Why did he put it in the order he did? Why did he include this selection or story and not another?

Without knowing what the human author intended to communicate to the original audience through a passage, we cannot know if we are faithfully applying the same theology that the original author was teaching.

Oct 26th 2008, 12:29 PM
Chimon, I understand what you are saying, and you may or may not be correct about what her pastor is looking for. And from an academic standpoint, your position is undoubtedly correct.
But it ignores the fact that the Holy Spirit was the True Author. The Word was not simply 'predestined to be written', it was directly inspired by the Spirit, and oftentimes without the author's undertanding of what was written, thus what their intentions were is a rather moot point.
It is certainly not wrong to learn what the Spirit was communicating, for it is clear that the Spirit was intentionally communicating to 'us' (meaning all of us) for very real and specific purposes. There is purpose in every word, every phrase, every name, even in the specific order of things mentioned.
All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21 KJV)
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 KJV)

Oct 26th 2008, 07:49 PM
I don't think that my view ignores the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the orginal human authors to write words that were both 100% the words of God and 100% the words of man. However, if you subscribe to the traditional mainstream view of inspiritation, (known as the verbal-plenary standpoint) you believe that the inspiritation of the text lies in the written words of the original manuscript, and, that in order for these words to be meaningful to you, you need to have an understanding of the meaning that the orignal human author and the Spirit desired to convey to the orignal audience.

Once we know what the orignal author(s) desired to communicate to the orignical audience, we can understand how this truth applies to us. The Bible does not contain 'timeless truths' that we can drop into verse by verse and apply directly to our lives, but rather truths within a historical and literary context. Only by understanding these contexts can we be sure that the 'truth' we think the passage conveys is actually the Truth that the Spirit inspired the human author to write.

For example, if we drop in on the verse 'God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all' without an understanding of context, we could make it say almost anythign we wanted. We couls say that this means God physically consists of light, or that it is a metaphor for God's revelation to us, or the Spirit's illumination of Scripture, or a million other things.

However, if we understand that this is written by the Apostle John, who was leading several churches, and was writing to combat a form of mysticism that suggested God was a dualistic force of good and evil, and that culturally light is a symbol for righteousness, the ONE meaning of the passage is much more clear. The phrase means that God is completely good, (righteous) and in him there is no evil. And it is clear that this passage is NOT teaching that, for example, God is made up of photons.

This may seem to be splitting semantic hairs, but without this type of interpretive technique, I am free to say that Scripture means whatever I feel it is saying. The problem with this is that 1. there is no standard of what the Bible says, and 2. people are sinful, and will twist Scripture to their ends.

How long did vast majority of the Western church teach that their slavery of multiple races is the will of God based on their own twisted interpretation of certain verses in the Torah and Timothy and Peter? It is important to be sure that Scripture has only ONE meaning and that meaning is defined by the AUTHOR, not by us.

Once again, this may seem to be splitting hairs, but without being strict about the interpretation of Scripture, we have very little guard against people who would twist Scripture for their own end, or against 'accidental' heresy. See what I mean?

Oct 26th 2008, 07:53 PM
I suggest something from the Gospel of John or Luke, because they are some of the easier to interpret passages in the Bible. They both declare the reason that they wrote the book openly, which helps a great deal. When I took my first Biblical interpretation class, we started with John and Luke. Ruth is also very interesting.

I think the Psalms are pretty complex to interpret, because they have about 20 poetic/literary devices that you need to understand.

Oct 26th 2008, 07:57 PM
See what I mean?


Oct 26th 2008, 09:20 PM
You may want to check out the "Literary Study Bible" - these factors are discussed for just about every chapter of every book in the Bible. An excellent resource.