The Bible in the West includes the Hebraic and
Christian scriptures, respectively the Old and
Jews accept the Old Testament as their
Christians broaden that outlook to include
both the Old and New Testaments.
• Accepting the scriptures as the revealed word of
the Lord is a matter of faith, and systematic
analysis of the scriptures is theological
interpretation, which results in a code of beliefs
Even if divinely inspired (“The Word
of God”), the Bible is still a product
of human beings written for human
The book is a collection of writings
produced by real people who lived in
actual historical times.
Came from a variety of social positions and
A Tax Collector
--The Bible is the common heritage of us all, whatever our religious beliefs.
--The Bible contains various literary forms written for a variety of purposes:
It contains genealogies, laws, letters, royal decrees,
instructions for building, prayers, proverbial wisdom,
prophetic messages, historical narratives, tribal lists,
archival data, ritual regulations, and information about
Poetry-Prayers-Short Stories- Novels- Gospels
Explains how religious
rites, rituals and
ceremonies came into
existence, such as…
Teaches a community or
individuals how to
Obey your elders
Don’t sleep with your
Don’t drink water that
has a dead moose in it
--The Bible as an anthology--a set of
selections produced over a period of
some one thousand years.
*The Old Testament (39 books)
*The New Testament (27 books)
*The Old Testament (39 books)
Timeline: Creation of the universe and of
mankind to the end of BC
Subject: History of Israel
Original language: Hebrew
*The New Testament (27 books)
Timeline: AD to the end of the world
Subject: life of Jesus
Original language: Greek
The Gospels (Historical and Wisdom)
Epistolary Literature (Historical)
Apocalyptic Literature (Prophetic)
Called the Pentateuch, the first five books of
the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
and Deuteronomy), also called the Torah by the
Jews, contain numerous literary forms:
In Genesis, the story of Creation is a literary
catalogue distinguished by classification and
division and by incremental repetition.
The Pentateuch, continued: contain
numerous literary forms:
In Genesis Continued: In the first stage or
day of Creation, the narrator recounts that
God created light, divided it from darkness,
and classified the light as day and the
darkness as night.
The narrator follows the same pattern in
describing subsequent days of Creation.
Accordingly, God separates the earth from the
sea, then creates the respective creatures
dwelling on land and in the water.
“Creation” – numbers
“In the Garden”- Adam and Eve
“The First Murder” – Cain and Abel
“The Great Flood” – Noah and symbols
“Babel” – Theme
“Abraham: A Promise and a Test”- Abraham,
Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, Holy Messenger
“Jacob”- (also known as Israel), Isaac, Esau
“Joseph” – Dreams, Joseph, Coat of many
“Moses: The Calling” – Moses, Aaron, Burning
“Moses: Challenging Pharaoh” – the Plagues,
Passover, Red Sea, Miracles in the Desert
The story of Adam and Eve in the
Garden is Aetiological helping
to explain how sin and
temptation came into the world.
This is also a story that helps to
Finally, the story is
instructional in that it teaches
human beings subservience to
Similar to the
Differs in the motivation
behind the cause.
Differs in the
The pattern of God’s
judgment and mercy.
Noah tested in the flood.
Abraham tested when God commands him to
As protagonists in the stories of Genesis, the
patriarchs by their trials, sufferings, and
eventual triumph resemble heroes in
Aetiological- And so
Yahweh scattered them
upon the face of the Earth,
and confused their
languages, and they left
off building the city, which
was called Babel "because
Yahweh there confounded
the language of all the
When God speaks in this story, He uses
the phrase, "let us go," referencing the
God says in Genesis 11:6, "If as one
people speaking the same language they
have begun to do this, then nothing they
plan to do will be impossible for them."
God realizes that when people are unified
in purpose they can accomplish
impossible feats, both noble and ignoble.
This is why unity in the body of Christ is
believe that this
marks the point in
history where God
divided the earth
•To build, the people used brick instead of stone
and tar instead of mortar. They used "man-made"
materials, instead of more durable "God-made"
materials. The people were building a monument to
themselves, to call attention to their own abilities
and achievements, instead of giving glory to God.
Known called the father of the Jews and
is considered the founder of the Jewish
religion. He was the first to believe in one
all-powerful God instead of many gods.
Christians and Muslims also
honor Abraham and trace their belief in
one God back to him.
Progenitor of the three major Western
Son of Abraham and Hagar
Known as “the Outcast”
Muslims believed that he is
the ‘sacrificial’ son as he
was Abraham’s only child for
Becomes the progenitor of
Arabs and is an ancestor of
Son of Abraham and Sarah
His son is Jacob who will
become known as Israel and
whose 12 sons will become
the 12 tribes of the Jews.
Because he was born to a
sterile mother (Sarah) he is
seen as an example of God’s
providing for a savior.
Theodicy- The problem of evil. Why does evil
exist in the world? Why do bad things happen
to good people?
Job’s ‘comforters’- Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar
Schadenfreude- taking pleasure in the
misfortunes of others.
God as judge, and the adversary (satan)
The Book of Job extols an exemplar of
faith and fortitude who is beset by one
misfortune after another.
Urged by his wife to renounce the Lord,
who is perceived as having unjustly
punished one of his faithful servants, Job
enhances his fortitude and affirms his
faith despite intense suffering.
Urged by friends to accept blame for the
disasters of his life—thus allowing them to
maintain a sense of order in the universe.
Calls for a conference with God.
Gets no answer, but is responded to by the Lord
In the course of suffering, Job becomes humble,
learns the limitations of human intelligence in
probing the mystery of God, and marvels at the
higher wisdom of the Lord that humankind can
never fully comprehend.
Numbers in the Bible have deep spiritual and
Although the books of the Bible have multiple
authors, there seems to be a remarkable
consistency with number symbolism throughout
the Bible from “Genesis” to “Revelation”
Numbers reference both Good and Evil.
“Let us go” in Babel,“Let us go” in Babel,
Noah had 3 sons,Noah had 3 sons,
Jonah in Fish, 3Jonah in Fish, 3
comforters, 3 wisecomforters, 3 wise
men, Jesus in tombmen, Jesus in tomb
Peter’s denial, 3Peter’s denial, 3
patriarchs ofpatriarchs of
(Earth, Wind, Fire,(Earth, Wind, Fire,
Water) Horsemen ofWater) Horsemen of
the Apocalypse,the Apocalypse,
Combination ofCombination of
God +creationGod +creation
mankind. 7 daysmankind. 7 days
and nights inand nights in
Genesis, in Noah,Genesis, in Noah,
in Joseph,7 yearsin Joseph,7 years
of plenty, (Jesus-of plenty, (Jesus-
in line fromin line from
10 plagues, (1010 plagues, (10
between Adambetween Adam
and Noah; Noahand Noah; Noah
and Abraham.)and Abraham.)
TWELVE-TWELVE- 12 sons12 sons
of Jacob (Israel)of Jacob (Israel)
become the 12become the 12
Tribes of the Jews,Tribes of the Jews,
12 apostles; (1212 apostles; (12
days ofdays of
FORTY-FORTY- 40 days40 days
and nights of rain,and nights of rain,
40 years in the40 years in the
desert (Israel), 40desert (Israel), 40
days and nightsdays and nights
(Jesus), 40 days(Jesus), 40 days
after theafter the
resurrection beforeresurrection before
the ascension.the ascension.
BIRTH and NATIVITY
“Where is he who has been born king?”
MINISTRY and MIRACLES
“Is this not the Carpenter?”
“The Sermon on the Mount”
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
“Last Days in Jerusalem”
“The Tomb is Empty”
Jesus- as Man, as God
Mary- Mother of God
Joseph- Jesus’ human father
Herod- tries to kill Jesus
Peter- denies Jesus at his death
Judas- betrays Jesus
Thomas- doubts the resurrection
Instructional stories meant to reveal a truth or
teach a lesson.
Sometimes confusing and ambiguous.
“The Good Samaritan”
“The Great Supper”
“The Lost Sheep” “The Lost Coin”
Among the historical books of the Bible, Samuel, Kings,
and Chronicles predominate.
They are part of the Jewish scripture called the Nebim
Officially in the Jewish tradition there are two
The former prophets—from the entrance to Canaan
to the Babylonian captivity.
The later prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and
the 12 minor prophets.
They describing the roles of kings and prophets among
the Chosen People and the evolution of a nomadic
community into a political and military kingdom in the
land of Canaan.
Emphasized are the first monarchies of Saul
and David, the histories of various kings, and
the grandeur of their temporal realms.
More important is the role of the prophets as
spokespersons of the Lord.
Inveighing against monarchs and the people
for their periodic lapses in fidelity to the Lord,
the prophets uphold the expectations of the
Lord in the midst of a community whose
majority, at times, becomes wayward.
The histories of the kings are presented in
accord with the literary form of the exemplum,
an example or “case study.”
The kings who are faithful to the Lord thrive,
whereas the unfaithful sovereigns are
punished, even to the extent of being defeated
by their enemies in battle. When impelled by
vainglory and by lusts (materialistic or carnal),
the kings are self-indulgent.
In line with the literature of didacticism,
these books teach readers clear-cut lessons
concerning one's relationship with the Lord, the
virtues to be imitated and the vices to be
shunned, the importance of fidelity to the Lord
and his heavenly realm, and the dangers of
inordinate attachment to worldly pleasures and
Thus, the prophets, in contrast to the
kings, are self-disciplined,
abstemious, and humble. Such a
state of purgation and purity readies
them to accept and disseminate the
word of the Lord.
Among the so-called Wisdom Books, the most
often cited are Job, Psalms, Proverbs (also known
as a Book of Wisdom), and The Song of Songs.
In the Jewish tradition these are contained in the
Kethubim (the Writings)
The collective wisdom of these books instructs
people concerning the adversities of life and the
means to withstand and overcome them.
In short, the Wisdom Books stress fortitude and
faith in the Lord in the present life so that one
may be rewarded.
In doing so, the Wisdom Books adapt the
overt methods of didactic literature:
to highlight exemplars who manifest
faith and fortitude during adversity,
to dramatize a prayerful relationship
between the people and the Lord,
to cite aphoristic lore derived from the
experience of generations, and
Aphoristic – “a concise statement of a
principle or a terse formulation of a truth
or sentiment” (Webster.com).
to use allegory in highlighting the
interaction of the Lord and
Ecclesiastes 9:11, "I returned, and saw
under the sun, that the race is not to the
swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither
yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to
men of understanding, nor yet favour to
men of skill; but time and chance
happeneth to them all."
“Psalm” is based on the Greek word which
represents the sound of a plucked string.
Hebrew poetry is not based on strict
metrical pattern alone (as in Greek or
Latin) or on metrical pattern and rhyme (as
in English and other modern languages).
It works by what is known as
“parallelism.” A first statement is
repeated or amplified in a different
form--”The statutes of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart:the commandments
of the Lord is pure,enlightening the
eyes” (19:8 KJV) (Berggren).
The Psalms, collected into a book or
Psalter, number approximately 150,
including both communal songs and
prayers and individual utterances, often
set to music.
Like lyrical poetry, which was often sung
or recited to musical accompaniment,
the Psalms manifest a tonal range that
includes primarily praise and gratitude
to the Lord and the self-examination of a
sinner who becomes a penitential
Since many of the Psalms are attributed
to King David, they are called the
Davidic Psalms (Labriola).
The book is a compilation of gnomes, a
word derived from the Greek “to know.”
It is presented in the manner of gnomic or
sapiential literature, which is commonplace
in cultures as varied as the Greek and the
the Book of Proverbs provides pithy
summations of wisdom to be imparted to
As a distillation of the “lessons learned” by
an older and wiser generation, the Book of
Proverbs imparts a philosophy of life, a
perception of one's place in society, and an
outlook on one's relationship to God.
Also called the Song of Solomon and the
Canticle of Canticles.
The text features a loving relationship,
including courtship and marriage,
between a bridegroom and his wife.
Though attributed to Solomon and
interpreted as his wedding song to his
beloved, the Song of Songs is more often
perceived by Christian commentators as
Especially through lyricism, drama, and
dialogue, the work suggest various
God and His People (or one soul)
Jesus and His Church
Christ and his mother Mary
The description of the beloved “to a
company of horses in Pharaoh's
chariots” (Chap. 1).
Robert Alter clarifies this perplexing
reference: “a mare in heat, let loose
among chariotry, could transform well-
drawn battle lines into a chaos of widely
The male celebration of female sexuality
as landscape is familiar to readers of
later love poems.
However, the Song of Songs is also
remarkable for the frequency with which
the woman speaks (Berggren).
The term “prophet” is derived from a
Greek word meaning “to speak on
behalf of” (Britannica).
The prophets were ancient Israelites who
spoke to the nation on behalf of God. In
other words, they were preachers.
Their purpose was not, as is often
mistakenly assumed, to foretell the future.
The prophets were men who interpreted
Israel's behavior in the light of God's laws
and frequently found reason to condemn
The prophets also declared that Israel
would be punished for breaking the laws.
A series of national disasters that befell
Israel seemed to prove the merit of the
Israel was conquered or subjugated in
turn by Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece,
and Rome over a period of seven
summoned by God,
received the divine word, and
preached it to the people.
The literary genre of prophecy,
including the oral traditions and written
narratives of Graeco-Roman and biblical
antiquity, characterizes the prophets as
spokespersons with two major functions:
(1) to admonish the people against
wrongdoing, usually violations of their
covenant with the deity, and to foretell
punishment if wayward conduct
(2) to proclaim the expectations of the
Lord, which the people are urged to
In the literary genre of prophecy,
prophets typically received communication
from God through dream-visions and trances.
Unaware of their surroundings and
impervious to external stimuli, prophets
became more attentive to divine
Characterized as zealots who were
abstemious and at times ascetic, prophets
renounced the temptations of worldliness
and carnalism, purifying themselves to
become fit vessels to receive and
disseminate the divine word.
Isaiah, in fact, cleansed his lips with a
As they inveighed against wayward rulers of the
Israelites or against the people at large, the prophets
often jeopardized their physical well-being while they
served as divine spokesmen.
Whether imprisoned, persecuted, or martyred, the
prophets were resolute in their faith in God and in their
This passion derived, in part, from the dramatic manner
in which prophets were summoned to their ministry,
which often led to their ardent zeal reflected in
denunciations of wrongdoing, in dire predictions of the
imminent wrath of the Lord, and in vivid descriptions of
the torment of everlasting damnation.
The preaching of Jeremiah, notably mournful in his
lamentations and fierce in prophesying the Lord's
wrath, gave rise to the term “jeremiad,” a diatribe often
couched as a sermon admonishing sinners that their
souls will be in the hands of an angry God (Labriola).
Jonah also spelled “Jonas,” the fifth of 12
Old Testament books that bear the names of
the Minor Prophets, embraced in a single
book, The Twelve, in the Jewish canon.
Unlike other Old Testament prophetic books,
Jonah is not a collection of the prophet's
oracles but primarily a narrative about the
man. (similar to the patriarch narratives).
Jonah is portrayed as a recalcitrant prophet
who flees from God's summons to prophesy
against the wickedness of the city of Nineveh
Like Odysseus, Jonah is a reluctant traveler who
takes refuge in sleep.
Ancient writers use symbolic details like this to
suggest delicate psychological states of mind
A clear example of a travel archetype.
Go a great distance to the edge.
Come back with a new understanding.
Jonah is willing to obey
Jonah learns that his ways are not
According to the opening verse, Jonah is the son of
This lineage identifies him with the Jonah
mentioned in II Kings 14:25 who prophesied during
the reign of Jeroboam II, about 785 BC.
It is possible that some of the traditional materials
taken over by the book were associated with Jonah
at an early date, but the book in its present form
reflects a much later composition.
It was written after the Babylonian Exile (6th
century BC), probably in the 5th or 4th century and
certainly no later than the 3rd, since Jonah is listed
among the Minor Prophets in the apocryphal book
of Ecclesiasticus, composed about 190.
Like the “Book of Ruth,” which was written at about
the same period, “Jonah” opposes the narrow Jewish
nationalism characteristic of the period following the
reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah with their emphasis
on Jewish exclusivity.
Thus the prophet Jonah, like the Jews of the day,
abhors even the idea of salvation for the Gentiles.
God chastises him for his attitude, and the book
affirms that God's mercy extends even to the
inhabitants of a hated foreign city.
The incident of the great fish, recalling Leviathan,
the monster of the deep used elsewhere in the Old
Testament as the embodiment of evil, symbolizes the
nation's exile and return.
Berggren, Paula. Teaching With the Norton Anthology of
World Literature Vols. A-C. New York: Norton, 2002.
Cauthron “What the SNU Religion Department Believes
and Teaches” What SNU Teaches.
http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/dept.htm (13 Sept.
Fairchild, Mary The Tower of Bable –Story Summary”
About.com Christianity 19 Sept. 2010
"Jonah, Book of." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
20 Sept. 2005 <
Labriola, Albert “The Bible as Literature” The
Literary Encyclopedia. (16 June 2003)
(13 Sept. 2005).
Walton, John H. "Is there Archaeological
Evidence of the Tower of Babel?" Christians
Answers. 19 Spt. 2010
"Are the individuals mentioned in the Old
Testament (such as Adam, Eve, Noah, Jonah, Job,
David, and Solomon) real people or just allegories
for teaching principles?"
• Scripture everywhere speaks of them as real
people. Archaeological exploration in the Middle
East have pointed increasingly to many
identifiable parallels (names, places, artifacts,
and texts) with things in the Bible. These
parallels give warrant for accepting the actuality
of persons named in the Old Testament
Remember, however, their importance is not
determined by their historical but spiritual reality.
“These stories focus on events that took place
long before humanity began to document its
history and civilization.. . . These chapters
contain narratives about the world out of
which Israel's ancestor Abraham came to
follow God's call." Discovering the Old
This question appears to assume that historical
veracity is the complete measure of all truth. To say
it another way: It takes the affirmation "If it is
historical, it is true" and turns it into the statement
"If it is true, it is historical."
Yet, one must ask how we usually understand Jesus'
parables in the gospels. Must we hold that Jesus
referred to a specific, living individual when he
spoke about a farmer, a land owner, a wife making
bread, a pearl merchant, a father who divided his
possessions (see Matthew 13 and Luke 15)?
• The theological truth of a parable is not
lessened, or made any less legitimate, when
we assume that these were stories of what
might happen rather than specific reports of
what actually transpired in someone's life.
• In fact, Biblical interpreters through the
centuries have argued that the father in the
prodigal son parable would not have been a
real Jewish father in Jesus' day. In that
culture, a father would not be so foolish as to
do what the younger son asked, because the
request was an insult to the father. Yet, these
same interpreters have spoken at length
about the message and meaning of the
parable with regard to Jesus' emphasis upon
God as Father.
Hinweis der Redaktion
The story of Adam and Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.