Chapter 2 Review
Chapter 2 in The Bible as Literature by Dr. Jeanine C. Crain is titled: “Style, Tone, and Rhetorical Strategy: A Way of Using Language. As the title suggests it is all about the different rhetorical devices used throughout the Bible and the importance of understanding them. It cites several examples of Biblical passages that use many of these devices, such as metaphor, irony, and anthropomorphism. It also stresses the importance of being able to recognize the figurative and literal language used throughout the Bible to get the clearest understanding possible. If the reader doesn’t understand these principles the Bible can become very confusing, and easily be taken out of context.
The first chapter of The Bible as Literature by Dr. Crain is appropriately titled: “Reading the Bible as Literature” because it gave a brief overview of how to read the Bible as literature and why it is important to do so. It explained different translations of the Bible, giving examples of versions that are translated more literally compared to those which translate more of figuratively. Some Bible versions sound more poetic while others are more straightforward for the purpose of studying. It also discussed things such as: macro-plots, prophecy, and the meta-narrative. All this leads perfectly into the second chapter which helps us understand some of these things from chapter one better by applying the rhetorical devices described in chapter 2.
Chapter 2: “Style, Tone, and Rhetorical Strategy: A Way of Using Language” defines all the rhetorical devices used by the Bible and provides several examples of their use throughout the Bible. One of the points it focused on was comparison and association. When we compare and associate in reading we use things like: implication, metaphor, simile, personification, condescension, appellation, and circumlocution to name a few. By using metaphor and simile we can compare two unlike things to each other and get a better understanding of both, and how they relate. We use appellation when we use descriptions as proper nouns. The ways we personify when using the Bible is through metonymy: when a noun becomes associated with another noun and meaning derives from the association produced in the readers mind, synecdoche: when a whole, or totality is represented by naming a part, anthropomorphism: when human characteristics are used to describe God, and zoomorphism: when animal characteristics are used to describe things that aren’t animals. Chapter 2 also explains the concept of merism: a special use of synecdoche which uses the word “and” to join together contrasting parts to express totality. A great example of this is in Genesis 1 when “God created the heavens and the earth”. Heaven and earth are opposites, but by joining them together the author shows the totality of God’s creation, literally He created everything. Chapter 2 is all about using the figurative speech and rhetorical devices throughout the Bible to understand the literal application that they have. It’s important when reading the Bible to always pay close attention to what is being said and try and deduce if the author wants you to take it literally or understand the figurative aspect of it. The two go hand in hand and the Bible often switches between literal and figurative. Chapter 2 provides a greater understanding of how to recognize the difference, and even more, how to recognize the specific types of rhetorical devices being used.
The chapter did a great job expanding on chapter one and elaborating on the rhetorical devices used throughout the Bible. The definitions given for each term were clear and easy to understand while effective in accurately defining the word. In addition, Dr. Crain gave excellent examples directly from the Bible to help the reader of the textbook understand better the rhetorical devices being used. I really enjoyed reading this chapter because of the application it has for my personal life. I love to read the Bible and after reading Chapter 2 “Style, Tone, and Rhetorical Strategy: A Way of Using Language” I feel like I can better understand the Bible when I read. I usually am capable of distinguishing between literal and figurative speech when I read but was unaware to many of the rhetorical devices discussed in the chapter. Now that I’ve learned about them and had some practice recognizing them I think I will get much more out of my Bible readings. The author did a great job emphasizing the importance of being able to recognize when the Bible uses rhetorical devices and when it is speaking clearly and literally. After gathering a better understanding of rhetorical devices I genuinely feel that recognizing this difference will come very naturally to me. As I read chapter two I found myself connecting it to chapter one and am excited to see how chapter 3 builds on both of them.