Monday, October 01, 2012

Are You Misreading the Greatest Living Book of All Time?

How to Read the Bible as Literature ... and Get More Out of It
is another book we can’t praise highly enough. The author, Dr. Leland Ryken maintains that:
“the Bible’s truths are embedded like jewels in the rich strata of story and poetry, metaphor and proverb, parable and letter, satire and symbolism. Paying attention to the literary form of a passage will help you understand the meaning and truth of that passage.” 
Biblical misinterpretation can lead to a crisis of faith. I have witnessed this more than once. It is extremely important to understand the context and literary devices being used when reading from this great book. For example, some of you Bible students may recall a well-known mantra that your professor or pastor tried to drill in your head, All Means All, and That is All, All Means."  

Well, that is simply not always the case when reading the Bible. (see Gen 41:57) Hyperbole (exaggeration) is a literary device that is often used to create a desired effect on the reader. But if we don't know this, we will misunderstand a passage, or think it inaccurate. 

Mr Ryken reminds us that the Bible should not be treated as as a theological treatise. It is a mixture of genres, some literary, some expository. Story (narrative) is the primary genre. He believes this is because people like to experience the truth rather than being told it directly. The experience moves us in a deeper way. This is exactly why we are educating our children with living books--truth wrapped beautifully in story.

This book gets an A from us.


  1. Thanks for this review, Linda. It is very interesting to me personally because I am currently watching someone very close to me walk away from their faith and family over this very issue. I think I'll see if I can find a copy. ~Jenn

  2. I'm guessing this would be the perfect companion to my Literary Study Bible, edited by Ryken & Ryken. Thanks for the brief review.