Different types of literature can be categorised by their form, style or content. This is known as genre. The meaning of the text is embedded within the genre. The Bible contains literature from a number of genres. After providing a description of genre, I will assess its role in biblical interpretation using a pericope from Mark’s Gospel to demonstrate how genre impacts reading and meaning. I will conclude with describing the effect that genre has on teaching from this text.
The question of how to read the Bible today is one of how we view the authority of Scripture. Can the stories in the Bible be applied to our present situation, and if they can how should we interpret them today? N.T. Wright has suggested that the Bible is a drama in five acts – Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus and the Church. The fifth act is unfinished and it is for the reader to enter into the drama and then to complete the story.
Developmental psychologists have attempted to understand if there is a discernible universal pattern to how a person’s values and perspectives change at different stages in their life. James Fowler developed a theory of six stages in his 1981 book Stages of Faith where he describes how an individual’s faith matures as they age.
The Letter of Paul to the Colossians contains six verses which form a hymn or poem in praise of Christ. This Christ Hymn is a densely packed statement of Paul’s Christological monotheism. Christ is exalted as sovereign over creation, the church and new creation. The letter was written in response to the false philosophy that the church in Colossae was in danger of following.
In Romans 1-3, Paul writes to the Christians in Rome about a major theme in his theology, the righteousness of God which has been revealed through the gospel. In this passage Paul describes the universal sinfulness and guilt of humanity that results in the wrath of God, before beginning to reveal the solution – faith in Jesus the Messiah.
The first temple dedicated to YHWH in Jerusalem was constructed under King Solomon in the tenth century BC at the top of Mount Zion; where it stood until it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 585 BC. Solomon’s Temple was symbolic as the dwelling place of Israel’s god, a restored Eden, a microcosm, the cosmic centre, a bulwark against chaos and the story of Creation in stone.