Literary styles of the Bible

The Bible is a complex book that cannot be simply viewed from a single perspective and then entirely judged by that perspective. It is a book utilizing many literary devices, several of which don’t even exist today. Just because one views it from one perspective and doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean the Bible itself is wrong. It’s like a reporter reading a poem and saying the poem is all wrong. It doesn’t contain any facts and is not clear on what it means. And the facts that it might contain are all wrong. The point of a poem is not to relay facts and news to a reader. If a poem is submitted as a news article, of course it will be rejected because that’s not the purpose of a poem.

When skeptics attack the Bible, it’s a similar situation. The Bible is not meant to be an encyclopedia of factual information and judged entirely through that perspective. Yes, some parts are historically factual, but not all of it is. The authors never meant it to be 100% accurate reporting of events, but somewhere on the continuum between fiction and non-fiction. And even if they wanted it to be 100% accurate, it’s doubtful they would have had the means to achieve it.

The Bible can be broken up into 3 main literary styles:
* 43% is in narrative form
* 33% is poetic
* 24% is prose discourse

Though the Bible is primarily in story form, one thing special about it is much of it is claimed to be rooted in actual history. It gives names of people, places, cities, mountains, rivers, dating of events relative to other events, etc. And it’s at least theoretically possible to cross check through extra Biblical sources (perhaps much more difficult now, but when written it certainly was open to that).

There are also many literary forms used in the Bible. Some is literal and some is figurative. And determining what is literal and what is figurative, or even what is both, can sometimes not be easy.

From God’s perspective, the Bible is meant to speak to all people in all time, whether it be a headhunter or head professor at a university. One literary device might be more relatable to one culture compared to another. Parts of the Bible speaks to right brained people and parts speaks to left brained people. Parts speak more to an eastern mind and parts speaks more to a western mind.

Another interesting feature I find of the Bible is though it is a complex book, it’s easy to read on the surface. Many books written analyzing the Bible are often much more complex than the Bible itself.

Just for the literary value of the Bible, I can’t think of any other single volume book that has so much variation in genre, literary styles, and literary forms and also be able to speak across all cultures throughout all the history of mankind. This doesn’t show the Bible is authoritative or trustworthy, but it does mean trying to attack the Bible without understanding the literary landscape does not nullify its authority or trustworthiness.