For most of the twentieth century, both as a result of and in response to modernism, interpreters of the Bible have taken a largely scientific approach. Passages are combed for proof texts, and these are presented as defense for variously held theological positions.
While doctrinal concerns are important, and certainly present in Scripture, this purely pragmatic attitude has led many to abandon an understanding of the Bible as literature—not fairy tale or pure myth, but as a written artistic document that expresses truth other than as mere propositions. Leland Ryken urges and proclaims a return to this more organic approach to Scriptural interpretation in How to Read the Bible as Literature.
Ryken leads readers through a study of literary elements and forms, and through the specific literary construction of the Bible. He uses terms more commonly associated with literary theory than theology—like “tragic hero” and “falling action”—to illuminate the narrative and structure of the Word of God.
This is not an attempt to fictionalize the Bible or to detract from the power or truth of its message. Rather, this is a reasoned argument for reading it as closely as possible as the people who wrote it intended for it to be read. In an age where authorial intent is seen as passé and all interpretation is subjective, this is a refreshing and excellent call to reading the Bible as it was meant to be: as the Word of God and as the world’s greatest literary masterpiece.
While this thoroughly covers the literary aspects of Scripture, it isn't a Bible study course. If you're looking at integrating it in your high schooler's Bible curriculum (we wouldn't recommend it for younger students) we suggest it be used as a supplement and not by itself. A good text to use alongside this one would be Search the Scriptures, though due to their disparate lengths your student will get through Ryken's volume much faster—consider using it as an introductory text.
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