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Importance of Genre in the Bible

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Deena V. Ene Dr. Joseph Butler BIBL104 March 3, 2014 **_ _** **_Importance of Genre – DB Forum 2_** 1\. What happens if you carefully consider the surrounding context of a passage, but ignore its literary genre? When we approach the Bible without considering its genre, much like historical-cultural context; it is highly possible to misunderstand what God is saying to us through the scripture. The writer suggests that genre is similar to a guideline of rules or “covenant of communication between author and reader;” we wouldn’t read a dictionary in the same way we would read a novel; and similarly, must consider approaching the different literary forms according to their kind (Duvall & Hayes, page 64). For example, we must approach 2 Corinthians (an epistle or letter to the church) differently than 2 Chronicles (a historical account of Israel’s history). To view a history book in the same mind as a personal letter would be like comparing a personal journal entry to an encyclopedia. To do this violates the covenant of communication. 2\. Besides those examples cited in this chapter, what are some instances of interpreting a biblical passage apart from its immediate context? I remember reading Ecclesiastes for the first time and being appalled. I began to wonder how this book ever made it into the Holy Bible. Verse 2:11 reads, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun” (NASB). Looking at the immediate context, verses 9-10 and 12-14 still did not provide an understanding as to why this passage was filled with negativity and hopelessness. Reading the entire passage doesn’t do it either. In this instance, I had to read the book in its entirety to interpret why the author was promoting this idea of everything being futile and without a purpose. Only until I got to the last 6 verses of the 12th [--last] chapter did it make sense. I finally read how this book was a narrative of a “wise” teacher who became worn out in his devotion of reading too many books (v12:12) or in striving to find wisdom. I was relieved to see that this book was not an inconsistency with the rest of the Bible, but a transparent writing of genuine feelings people can get caught up in when they devote themselves wholeheartedly to searching for answers and stray too far from God’s purpose. 3. When is topical preaching contextually valid? When does it disregard and violate context? An example of contextually valid topical preaching would be the topic of the End Times Prophecies. There are several references to the End Times throughout multiple books in the entire Bible -- (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, Romans, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2Peter, Jude, Revelation, etc.). One would validly use different scriptures from different books and contexts because the same topic is covered through different authors--similar to Christ’s death and resurrection, fulfillment of prophecies concerning His coming, etc. A topical sermon violates context when it disregards the relevance of the supporting context of a scripture. Using the example of Ecclesiastes, the topic of the purpose and meaning of life can get way out of hand if we don’t carefully consider its full context. References: Duvall, J. S., and J. D. Hays. Journey Into God's Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. ISBN: 9780310275138.