The Bible is a collection of books written in
例如 叙事体 诗歌 散文
different literary styles like narrative, poetry and prose.
Most of us are familiar with these kinds of literature.
Yeah, we all know a narrative when we see one,
like “The Hunger Games” or “The Great Gatsby”.
Most people can recognize poetry
whether it’s Walt Whitman or the songs of Bob Dylan
每天 我们周围都充满了散文 比如新闻类文章或随笔
Every day, we are surrounded by prose like news articles or essays.
All of these examples are modern American literature.
They came from this time period and this region of the world.
But there is also a medieval English literature from another place and time.
or Ancient Greek writings from this place and time.
So each time period and culture produces its own unique kind of literature.
In order to read the Bible well, we need to keep in mind
that it comes from this part of the world
and was produced in this basic period of time.
So, what is unique about ancient Jewish literature?
A key feature is that it lacks a lot of the details that
modern readers have come to expect in stories and poems.
This makes it seem really simple.
But, actually, it is very sophisticated literature.
Every detail that is given, matters.
That’s great, but the lack of detail means that
stories are often loaded with ambiguities.
I mean, take one of the first stories, Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Where did this talking snake come from?
Why did God allow him there?
Why didn’t Adam and Eve die on the spot like God said they would?
Who is this offspring of the woman who will destroy the snake, but is bitten by it?
Yeah, there are so many puzzles in this story.
Some of these are questions that we have
and that are not important to what the author is focusing on.
But some of these ambiguities are intentional.
Won’t that lead to bad interpretations?
People filling in the gaps with their own answers?
That’s a risk the biblical authors took in writing this way.
We all tend to impose our own cultural assumptions onto the Bible.
But they apparently thought the risk was worth it.
These oddities are really invitations into an adventure of reading and discovery.
What do you mean?
For example, the strange promise about the offspring of
the woman crushing and being bitten by the snake,
that word “offspring” is a clue to pay attention to genealogies
which, lo and behold, run all through the biblical narrative.
They traced the lineage from Eve
all the way to King David and his offspring.
In the New Testament, Jesus is connected to the offspring of this royal line.
When you read the prophets, Isaiah connected this king
to the suffering servant who would die on behalf of his people.
Then, in the book of Revelation, there is the symbolic vision.
Can you guess?
It is about a woman and her offspring.
It is Jesus and his followers who conquer the dragon by giving up their lives.
所以 单看故事里的每一部分都有疑问 但纵观整个故事就都能理解了
Yeah, so each part of the story there is loaded with ambiguities, but, all together, it makes sense.
This is the literary genius of the Bible.
It forces you to keep reading
and then interpret each part in light of the others.
This is feeling complicated.
I don’t know if I can do all that.
You are actually not expected to notice all of this by yourself or all at once.
This dense way of writing forces you
to slow down and then read carefully,
embarking on this interactive discovery process
through the whole biblical narrative
over a lifetime of reading and re-reading.
啊 好的 冥想文学
Ah! Okay, meditation literature.
Yeah, in Psalm 1 we read about the ideal Bible reader.
It is someone who meditates on the scriptures day and night.
In Hebrew, the word “meditate” means literally “to mutter or speak quietly”.
The idea is that every day for the rest of your life,
you slowly, quietly read the Bible out loud to yourself
and then go talk about it with your friends,
pondering the puzzles, making connections
and discovering what it all means.
As you let the Bible interpret itself, something remarkable happens.
The Bible starts to read you.
Because, ultimately, the writers of the Bible
want you to adopt this story as your story.
So, this ancient Jewish writing style, it must create
unique types of narrative and poetry and discourse?
Yes, we will explore all of those literary styles starting next with biblical narrative.