Reading The Bible as Literature an Introduction. Jeanie C. Crain. Malden, MA, 2010. [22-40] 18.
Chapter 2 in Reading the Bible as Literature an Introduction by Jeanie C. Crain is titled “Style, Tone, and Rhetorical Strategy: A Way of Using Language”. Based upon the title, this chapter should discuss different ways the Bible uses language and rhetorical devices to help us understand what we are reading. In the first section of Chapter 2, a brief overview of style, tone and rhetorical device is given, as well as how they are important within the Bible. The second section briefly details some rhetorical devices used for comparison and association, as well as for arrangement of words. The third section contains the bulk of the chapter. Many rhetorical devices are discussed within section three.
By beginning Chapter 2 with a brief introduction of why we should pay attention to rhetorical devices, the author is setting up a way of reading the Bible that students may not be aware of. The author begins the discussion of style, tone, and strategy by saying that they “...give additional force, life, intensified feeling, and greater emphasis to the manifold forms, words, and sentences in the Bible” (Crain 23). Any student choosing to look at the Bible as a piece of literature needs to understand the nuances of rhetorical devices in order to fully see the Bible in the proper light. The section then goes on to discuss briefly how translation affects reading rhetorical devices in the Bible. The first section of Chapter 2 succeeds in showing the reader why it is important to pay attention to rhetorical devices while reading the Bible as literature. This section gives the reader the background they need in order to fully approach the Bible at a scholarly level.
The next section begins with the discussion of comparison and association throughout the Bible. The author lists different rhetorical devices with a definition. Examples throughout the Bible are given for some of the devices. This section includes several rhetorical devices which I never was never taught in any of my English classes. This is definitely a plus for this second section. By including several devices that I was unaware of, I am being forced to actually read definitions and go back to the text as I read through the Bible looking for the use of different devices. The only thing I wish this section had done better is give more examples for each rhetorical device. For example, on page 25, the author lists “simile, metaphor, implication (this last without the “like” or “as” of simile, and without the verb of metaphor)”. Now, I know what similes and metaphors are, and I understand how they work. Implication is clearly defined using a comparison with simile and metaphor. This is a good definition of implication and I understand what to look for, however, examples from within the Bible itself would have been far more helpful than just the definition. Aside from a couple lack of examples, this section successfully discusses comparison, association, and word arrangement and how they can have an impact on the student reading the Bible.
The third section includes a wide sampling of various rhetorical devices used throughout the Bible. Many of the rhetorical devices in this section are ones I learned throughout my English classes, however, there were also several which I had never heard of. The author begins with a discussion of simile and metaphor, arguably the first use of figurative language many students learned in elementary school. The author goes into great detail with examples of the use of simile and metaphor throughout the Bible. After simile and metaphor, the author goes into over 10 more rhetorical devices used throughout the Bible. The author does a great job at defining each of the rhetorical devices and using multiple examples on many of them. The only complaint I have is that a larger section on vision would have been helpful. Other rhetorical devices in this section had a definition and multiple examples with a paragraph or two of discussion. Vision was just tossed at the very end of the chapter as one quick paragraph. I ended this section with several questions about vision left unanswered.
Overall, Chapter 2 of Reading the Bible as Literature an Introduction, does a successful job at listing out many of the rhetorical devices the reader will encounter throughout the Bible. Many people who read the Bible do so in a religious background and have only gained meaning from the Bible on a religious level. While many people have learned about rhetorical devices throughout school, they do not realize that they can take the religious level of understanding and add knowledge of rhetorical devices to gain an even greater understanding of the Bible as literature. The only main problem I had with this chapter was the lack of specific examples in some areas. This, however, is not enough for me to say the chapter did not accomplish its goal. Any student who came across this textbook with a basic understanding of rhetorical devices would find this chapter very helpful at explaining how to utilize that knowledge to gain several levels of understanding the Bible.