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The Bible is actually a collection of works composed over great spans of time by various authors who each had a unique message and a unique style of writing in which to present this message. Because of this the Bible contains writings of several genres, or literary styles. Each genre is suited to the message that is being used to present but in order to understand the message being presented we must first know how to approach the genre itself. The section above entitled The Structure of the Bible gives a generalization of the genre that each book of the Bible falls into. Within each book, however, various genres may be present. The book of Isaiah is an excellent example of the mixture of the historical, prophetic, poetic, and narrative genres. The principle genres found in the Bible are discussed in the sections that follow, with some suggestions as to how they are best to be treated.

At even a casual reading it becomes evident that the Bible is comprised of many different literary formats each of which is utilized to a different end. Correctly identifying the various types of writing in the Bible is a skill that will enhance your personal Bible study in allowing you to properly interpret the words you are reading. Where the poetic passages allow for incredible imagery, powerful expressions of thought, and great lyrical beauty the narrative passages are better suited to the representation of historic details and technical descriptions. The genealogical and prophetic passages are also used to better present the material being presented by each. Understanding how each genre is used will assist you as you seek to discover the meaning of any passage being studied.

As noted above there are various genres of writing found within the Bible, each of which requires our attention in a different way just as we read newspapers, novels and wills in different ways. Of primary importance is to remember that the Bible is not merely a collection of various literary genres but that it represents God's revelation of Himself (and of His actions in history) to man.