Literary forms of the Bible

There were different literary forms that came under the various cultural human influences.  Literary criticism means the various applications that people have used to investigate any kind of literature.  The study of the use of language and style to obtain meaning has helped to reestablish the unity, the beauty, the integrity, the quality, and the meaning and significance of biblical literature.  Many subcategories of literary criticism also exist.  An examination of the use of language and literary style shows how these human authors established their meanings.  The formal scientific study of human language involves the application of some aspects of modern linguistics.  Structuralism is an attempt to discover underlying deep patterns of universal meaning and significance.

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Comfort for the people (Isa 40:1-40:2)

“‘Comfort!

Comfort my people!’

Says your God.

‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem!

Cry to her!

She has served her term.

Her penalty is paid

That she has received

From Yahweh’s hand,

Double for all her sins.’”

This section of Isaiah is often referred to as the Book of Consolation. Sometimes people refer to this section as Deutero-Isaiah or Second Isaiah because it is separated from the preceding chapters by style and setting. There is a more universal outlook, perhaps from a disciple of Isaiah, some few hundred years later. However, even some parts of the preceding chapters may have been from this time also. Apparently this time setting is near the end of the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE. God speaks and comforts the Israelites because they have served their punishment time. They have paid the double penalty that they received from Yahweh’s hand.

Qoheleth (Eccl 12:9-12:10)

“Besides being wise,

Qoheleth also taught the people knowledge.

He weighed many proverbs.

He studied many proverbs.

He arranged many proverbs.

Qoheleth sought to find pleasing words.

He wrote words of truth plainly.”

Now we have a description, eulogy, or explanation of Qoheleth by another author in this epilogue. Qoheleth was wise. He taught the people knowledge. He studied and arranged many of the proverbs in this book. He weighted their value. But as we have seen most were useless vanity. He wanted to find pleasing words as he had a good literary Hebrew style. He spoke plain truth. There was nothing fancy about his work.

The wise one speaks (Prov 22:17-22:19)

“The words of the wise

Incline your ear!

Hear my words!

Apply your mind to my teaching.

It will be pleasant,

If you keep them within you.

It will be pleasant,

If all of them are ready on your lips.

Your trust may be in Yahweh.

I have made them known to you today,

Yes,

To you.”

Now we suddenly switch backs to the words of the wise, rather than the Proverbs of Solomon. Who then is this wise one or wise ones? Some have speculated that these were the wise friends of Solomon. However, the style is reminiscent of the first few chapters in the prologue. The request is that you incline your ears and hear his words. The use of the singular might mean one individual. Quite frankly, we have to say that we do not know who this wise man is. However, you are asked to apply your mind to his teaching. This will go well, that is pleasant, if you keep his words within you, ready on your lips. Basically you must trust Yahweh. The wise man has made it known to you, explicitly you, today. So listen up!