Chapter 5 Review Hon 395


Reading the Bible as Literature. Jeanie C. Crain. Malden, Maryland: Polity Press, 2010. [90-109] 19 pages.


                This chapter review is over Reading the Bible as Literature by Jeanie C. Crain. The chapter covered is Chapter 5. In Chapter 5 the main focus was on clarifying and mapping the sub-genres in the Bible. It was broken down throughout the chapter by the four main sub-genres Dr. Crain covered and various definitions for sub-genres. As given in every Chapter covered so far, the outline for Chapter 5 gave the reader expectations for what main ideas that was to be covered in the chapter. The outline included: preliminary considerations, familiar sub-genres, close reading, and questions for reflection. Overall, this chapter did a fine job of presenting the numerous sub-genres found in the Bible and defining them in ways that the audience can understand, while also giving direct examples of sub-genres and their reoccurrence throughout the Bible so that the reader actually understands what’s being explained. The identification of the various sub-genres was very eye opening to what I truly now understand to be a sub-genre. Jeanie C. Crain did a great job by not just giving definitions, but by providing multiple examples of each throughout the chapter helped me to truly grasp what this chapter had to offer.


                To help readers understand how to read the Bible as literature, Jeanie C. Crain authored a book that affected the common reader audience to understand the familiar sub-genres. Bible entails. Chapter 5 was written with the idea that by clarifying mapping sub-genres, understand what composes a sub-genre, and where to find them through the Bible, a reader can understand how they play a significant role in being able to read and understand the Bible. Jeanie C. Crain placed her main focus on the sub-genres: song, allegory, parable, and prayer so the reader would understand the most common sub-genres in the Bible.


                As mentioned in the introduction the main focus of this chapter is sub-genres: a way of clarifying and mapping. The outline at the beginning of the chapter promised to include: preliminary considerations, familiar sub-genres (Song, Allegory, Parable, and Prayer), close reading, and questions for reflection. To begin, Jeanie C. Crain explains how the chapter requires the audience “to focus on what we have in the Bible, so the audience doesn’t have to come equipped with an understanding, but instead just ask what kind of thing is this?” In the chapter is a highlighted section that covers the preliminary considerations concerning sub-genre conventions, recognition of genres, metaphorical function, and objections to genre criticism.


                Crain explains in this chapter that she will introduce the major sub-genres (the type, how it’s categorized, and explanation) into which literary works are grouped, and that once a sub-genre is recognized it contributes a set of expectations that shapes a reader’s interpretation of a text. The chapter is divided into: the introduction of sub-genres, song, allegory, parable, prayer, and close reading.


                To start of the chapter Dr. Crain gives a brief overview for what to expect in this chapter. Dr Crain explains that reading the Bible as it is arranged prevents recognizing connection and unity; therefore it’s necessary to read outside of the literal text. Conventions are the first tool explained in preliminary considerations, which is explained as a tool to guide readers into a text to understand what to look for and how to organize their experiences while reading. Recognition of genres is the next tool mentioned and is important to differentiate and recognize how books have similar genres in the Bible, Dr. Crain even guides the reader by mentioning Joshua, Judges, 1,2 Samuel, 1,2 Kings, 1,2 Chronicles, and Proverbs as examples. To end the preliminary considerations in Chapter 5 Dr. Crain explains Metaphorical Function by mapping divine action in history and providing and explanation for how people fit into God’s created order.


                The rest of Chapter 5 is covering the familiar sub-genres: song, allegory, parable, and prayer. Dr. Crain explains that she chose these sub-genres because they are readily accessible as short units of text and because they are familiar and easily recognizable as genres.

                Song is the first sub-genre that is defined and explained in the chapter. In the Bible song is referring to what is meant to be sung along with the idea of a common characteristic of poetry. It’s easy to find due to being set off in the writings with quotations or descriptions of what is to come. Examples of victory hymns, antiphonal, stanza, parallelism, and imagery are listed for where to find them in verses in the Bible, but also with direct examples that involve major importance in the Bible. These direct examples include: Song of Moses (victory hymns), Song of Miriam (victory hymns), Song of Deborah (antiphonal and layered imagery of motion), and Song of Mary (using annunciation to link to other important parts of the Bible; ie birth of children).

                Next to come is allegory, and is explained as being used in the Old and New Testament and Dr. Crain again mentions how they should be understood more than just contextually. Allegory is defined as a continuation of a metaphor (resemblance) for abstract or spiritual meaning into a concrete/material form. She then uses Song of Solomon, the prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and New Testament to illustrate allegory’s importance to biblical narrative and follows those explanation up with examples of verses to find in the Bible. Dr. Crain even lists reasons for why to read allegorically and how the Bible frequently explains its allegories (especially the allegory of marriage to show/depict unity.

                Parable which is similar to allegory is mentioned next, involving the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament. Dr. Crain then mentions for a sub-genre to a be a true parable it must have two meanings constructed in parallel action, “physical” to “spiritual”, and then a list of parables in the Bible in mentioned.

                Finally to end the four familiar sub-genres prayer is covered. Prayers when read outside of context have historical, traditional and faith meaning, and unlike song/poem there’s a continuum between conversation and formalized address. Like the previous three sub-genres, prayer has a list of where to find the examples in the Bible. Then, to end the whole chapter Dr. Crain follows up with a continuation of not only the four familiar sub-genres, but where other-less popular sub-genres can be found in the Bible along with their definitions.


                Reading the Bible as Literature is a great literary tool for understanding sub-genres the Bible has to offer.  The chapter truly achieved its goal at providing the reader with explaining and definition sub-genres in the Bible. It gives the audience the understanding of how each book or multiple verses in the Bible may follow a specific sub-genre. Crain did explain that in this chapter that she will give preliminary considerations, and then explain four familiar sub-genres in depth; and that once a literary sub-genre is recognized it can be tied to other areas of the Bible. It was known to the audience throughout the chapter how important to understand the Bible; you need to understand the sub-genres the text may contain! The chapter headings that were then broken down helped the audience to understand familiar sub-genres, what composes them, and where they can be found in the Bible. That’s truly helpful even for a Bible reader like me, the idea of sub-genres in the Bible astounds me I didn’t think that literary element existed that deeply in the Bible! I can see how a beginner Bible reader would definitely need to read this book and especially this chapter so they know not to necessarily take the Bible so literally, but understand that reading outside of the context is where the true meaning takes place!