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The Bible as Literature: A Compendium of Literary Examples.

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1 The Bible as Literature: A Compendium of Literary Examples

2 Let’s Be Clear…  We are using the Bible as a piece of literature.  We are focusing on the literary elements.  This is not an endorsement of any of the religious beliefs, events, or ideas written in the Bible.

3 Why the Bible?  Contains a variety of literary elements  Oldest recorded version of some literary forms  Written in Hebrew and Greek in its earliest forms  Written in Latin (the basis for English, Spanish, French and Italian) later  Historical significance of different versions  It is the most printed book in the world.

4 A Little History  Likely written in Hebrew and Greek originally  Translated into Latin  Translated into English by a group of scholars appointed by King James I of England; Called the King James Bible  Earlier English translations were done in 1535 but were not considered to be accurate because the translators did not know Latin and Greek that well

5 Which version?  There are many versions of the Bible  All depend on the ability of the translators to understand the Greek and Hebrew language both of which can have multiple meanings for words  Most Translated into other Languages: The King James Bible  Most Used by Scholars: The Revised Version printed in 1870

6 The Most Famous Bible  The Gutenberg or Marazin Bible  First to be printed on a printing press  First to be printed using moveable type  Printed in Mainz, Germany  Printer: Johannes Gutenberg  Thought to have gone on sale in 1456  Contains 42 lines per page; it’s a huge book with large typeface  One copy is on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC

7 Organization of the Bible  The Bible contains books.  Each book is segmented into chapters.  The chapters have numbered verses.  The Bible is divided into two sets of books: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  References from the Bible are listed book, chapter: verse such as Genesis 1:1.  Does this sound familiar to you? Think about the books that you read. What structure do they have in common?

8 What literary elements are in the Bible?  Proverbs  Parables  Psalms

9 Proverbs  A proverb is a pithy saying expressing a general truth or practical observation about life or human behavior.  Sometimes a proverb uses an idiom.  With older proverbs, the idiom may be something from another era.  The Bible contains a book of Proverbs.

10 Examples of Proverbs  Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.  Proverbs 12:9 Better is a man of humble standing who works for himself than one who plays the great man but lacks bread.  Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.  Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

11  Proverbs 13:29 He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.  Proverbs 13: 24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.  Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent looks where he is going.  Proverbs 19:2 It is not good for a man to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his feet misses his way. Examples of Proverbs

12 Parables  A parable is a simple story that teaches a lesson or illustrates a moral principle.  Details of a parable parallel the details of the situation calling for illustration.  Most of the parables in the Bible are found in the New Testament accounts of stories told by Jesus.  The stories are told to illustrate a point.

13 Example of a Parable Matthew 7:24-27 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it do not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who build his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the foods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

14 Luke 10:30-37 Jesus replied, “ A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So, likewise a Levite, when he come to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him he had compassion 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Example of a Parable

15 The Parable Continues… 35 And the next day he took out two small coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to them, “Go and do likewise.” This is called the parable of the Good Samaritan.

16 Psalms  Psalms are the words to hymns or songs meant to be sung to God.  You can think of them as song lyrics.  There is a book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible that contains 150 psalms.  As with many song lyrics, some of the psalms rhyme.

17 Examples of Psalms Psalm 3 O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of me, there is no help for him in God. 3 But thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4 I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill.

18 Famous Psalms  The 23 rd Psalm is often read at funerals. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters; he restores my soul.  Psalm 100 is the basis for a famous hymn. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

19 Concluding Thoughts  Hebrew poetry, the primary language of the Bible, contained many of the same literary elements that we use in English: alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, similes, and metaphors.  Since the Bible we read is a translation, a lot of the poetry and literary elements are not as easily seen as they would have been in Hebrew or Greek.  The Bible contains early examples of many of the literary elements we still study today.


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