When it comes to reading and dissecting the Bible, one may come across a plethora of genres. Each chapter or story of the Bible plays an important role in the overall construction of the Bible.
The genre may be poetic, a letter, a narrative, a source of instruction or even a proverb, no matter what the genre may be, each genre is distinct in its own way. By looking at multiple pericopes, one can learn to identify the genre and determine if the designation fits the purpose of the passage. Exodus 15: 1-18
When reading through Exodus 15:1-18, a vibe of musical distinction rings through. This pericope contains many characteristics of a hymn. In the first verse of this pericope, the words "Israel sang this song to the LORD" are scribed.
Not only are hymns sung to the Lord, but also an entire collection of hymns is placed together within the book of Psalms. A second clue to that this pericope is a hymn is because of the placement in the Bible. Within the text of the Bible, a sub-heading is given to this pericope. The sub-heading is "The Song of Moses and Miriam".
The word song within the sub-heading is representing that chanting voices sang the following verses to the Lord, either. Michael McGehee's book, The Bible Doesn't Have to be Hard to Read, "majority of psalms were hymns, which believers chanted or sang as a group" (28). Not only is it Moses lifting these words of praise up, it is the people of Israel joining in with him.
McGehee also states that "words, phrases, and ideas in hymns are usually the composition of an individual, and they typically express a particular interpretation of life and faith" (29). McGehee presents two valid ideas. Both of these ideas directly reflect to Moses and the people he is leading, the Israelites. When looking at Exodus 15, Moses and the people of Israel may be inferred as the "believers" and the "group" or individuals that are lifting up this particular hymn.
The particular "words, phrases, and ideas" that are expressed through the hymn are that of Moses. Many times within the passage the phrase "I will sing to the Lord" is repeated, this phrase is referring to the words sung by Moses. Moses is using the word "I" in order to accurately represent the faithfulness and overall promise that Yahweh made in Genesis 12. Yahweh will deliver the Israelites out of their present trouble. When studying this particular pericope the genre designation of a hymn, allows a visualization of the Israelites praising the Lord.
Not only does Moses have a sense of confidence but he also seems to be full of spirit. Throughout the passage "O LORD" is constantly repeated and sung to Yahweh. The people of Israel show fear and sovereignty to the One above. In a worshipping attitude, not only do the people of Israel seem to find comfort, but also they seem to reestablish a feeling of hope in the promise of Yahweh.
If one were to say this pericope was a letter or a source of instruction, the entire interpretation of what was written would be skewed out of context. Moses did not sing to the Lord in order to give instruction to the Israelites, he sang in order to lead his people in a time of praise. Nor does this passage tell a group of people to act in a certain way, as do the letters in the New Testament. Moses brings his people together for a time of worship and outward expression that the LORD is most powerful and in control of the Israelites at all time. Matthew 13:
The letters of the New Testament are full of parables. Matthew 13: 44-46 is just one of the multiple parables that may be found in the Bible. Not only does this pericope contain two examples of a parable, it provides an illustration for a behavior that needs to be fixed. Jesus spoke in parables in order to relate the problems of society into terms that could be understood by all generations.
The passage is concise and too the point, in which case most parables are. McGehee states that parables are to "help people think about a complex issue by providing an illustration that puts the issue into the context of everyday life" (13-14). The complex issue is attaining the kingdom of heaven.
The illustrations are, the hidden field in which the man finds and covers up and the merchant in search of fine pearls. Both of these examples fit into the biblical time period in which Jesus spoke them. Not only do both examples state a quest, but the verses also state the path that was taken in order to reach the end of the quest. McGehee also points out that " The easiest way to find parables is to look for the passages that are actually called parables in the text." (14). These verses were under a sub-heading with the distinct word parable in it. This alone will explain the genre.
Jesus did not pretend to think that all of the people of this world were educated. He spoke in parables in order to reach all the people by using certain illustrations and comparisons. If Jesus were trying to convey the point that the kingdom of heaven is a much-desired goal, He would not write it in a hymnal format. Most hymns are songs of praise in which the people expressing the hymns are in close contact with the Lord. Jesus reached many in His era as He does now with these parables. Not only do the parables withstand the age of man, they also withstand the age of time.
If this particular pericope was designated something other than a parable, the meaning of the parable would be lost in genre designation. The parable is used to "convey a message to the wise that will be misunderstood by the simple" (14). The meaning of the text would take on an entirely different meaning. Instead of explaining that the kingdom of heaven is worth everything a man may own, one might take the viewpoint that I must own much in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. Exodus 21: 28-36
The Old Testament is full of laws. Within the Old Testament, many laws are stated that the people of God must follow in order to walk in obedience. Exodus 21: 28-36 is an example of ethical instruction. This pericope states a law and how it must be followed and examined. Laws helped people obey and fear God. Without the laws and commandments, people would have been able to define their own lifestyle, probably a life dishonoring God.
In the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, legal codes of ancient Israel are found. Within the Torah is Exodus. In this specific pericope, the law of the ox is laid out. Exodus 21:28 states, "When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be clear." McGehee writes, "In situation S you must do D but not E." (57). Here the specific situation stated is the ox goring a man, then the ox should be stoned and the flesh not eaten, and the owner should not be harmed or have the blame land on his shoulders.
The same literary pattern can be seen in the following verses, "35When one man's ox hurts another's, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the price of it; and the dead beast also they shall divide.
36 Or if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall pay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his". Following the same pattern McGehee stated, one could decipher the situation, and in turn, determine the action that should be followed and the option that should not be followed.
By following the example of McGehee, this pericope has to be designated at ethical instruction. With the genre designation of a law, one has to interpret the pericope as one must do this or this will happen.
The perception of law usually limits the pericope to only having one meaning and one meaning alone. This is a negative aspect of the passage. Should this pericope be studied as only a law then many people would assume that in order to be in the grace of God, one must abide by these certain laws and not already have received the grace of God.
This pericope cannot be designated as anything but a law and ethical instruction. If it were to be designated as a letter or a theological letter then the people of Moses would have never been able to attain the grace of God. This pericope guides the Israelites in how to live a blameless life and handle certain situations that should arise in their community.
People would have possibly turned to their own rationale thinking, which could have led them astray from God and caused a dispute between the children of Yahweh. Exodus 21: 28-36 is a law. Genesis 2-3
The beginning of time, the earth and the people all can be traced to the hands of God. The first two book of the Torah is a narrative. Genesis 2-3 are spoken as narratives but can be further dissected as history and even a myth.
This pericope in particular helps define what God created and how man was formed. Told as a story and easily followed, Genesis 2-3 should only be interpreted as a narrative. Main characters are introduced and within the events of Genesis 2-3 they will either do something or have something happen to them.