Reading The Bible as Literature an Introduction. Jeanie C. Crain. Malden, MA, 2010. [129-148] 19.


Chapter 7 in Reading the Bible as Literature an Introduction by Jeanie C. Crain is titled “Themes and Motifs: A Way of Unifying”. Based upon this title, this chapter should discuss different themes throughout the Bible and how they impact the way readers will understand the unification of the books of the Bible. The first section of Chapter 7 provides “preliminary considerations” including definitions, objections to thematic analysis, and how the Bible has traditionally been read. The second section contains the bulk of the chapter. Different Biblical themes and their importance to reading the Bible are discussed for the remainder of the chapter. The main point of this chapter is to provide a more in depth discussion of the subject of themes, which, while briefly mentioned several times throughout the book, has not been solely focused upon itself.


The author begins this chapter with a definition of theme and what it does: “Theme, an organizing idea, (abstraction), holds together a work and can be embedded in images, actions, and emotions; it is the main emotional, analytic, and perceptive core of a text” (Crain 130). By beginning the chapter with a definition of theme, the readers are expected to understand what theme is in order to be able to fully immerse themselves in the discovery of unification of themes throughout the Bible. In this first section, the author also provides a comparison of theme and motif. This comparison, although brief, helped to explain the subject of motif, which I was unclear about at its first introduction in Chapter 1. This section gives the readers a brief overview of theme, motif, and archetype, which are necessary to understand the rest of this chapter, as well as necessary to succeed in identifying the unification of different books of the Bible when reading it outside of the scholarly setting of this class.


Section 2 provides the bulk of Chapter 7. This section provides discussion on 6 different themes throughout the Bible. The section begins with a discussion of the Decalogue. First, a helpful history of the 10 commandments is given for those who may not know of it. Then, the section goes into detail about what the Decalogue actually is as well as how it shows the relationship between God and his people. Next, the section goes into a discussion of the Shema. I felt this section of Chapter 7 was particularly interesting because I have not actually heard of the Shema before. It was very interesting for me to learn about an new aspect of the Bible that I was entirely unaware of. The author is successful at presenting the Shema in a way that even someone who is unfamiliar with it is able to understand both the prayer itself and how it works as a theme in the Bible. The third section of Chapter 7 discusses the relationship based upon promise and obligation. This section discusses several covenants that God has made with different people throughout the Bible. I did not realize how many themes and connections there were between the covenants made with God until I read this chapter. This chapater laid out each of the covenants, what they meant and why they are important in a way that was easy to understand and easy to see connections between.


The next section is about God's mercy. While this section is quite short compared to some of the others, it hits on several very important points. One that I found particularly interesting, that I had never given any thought to before was that love “has more to do with serving God than it does with emotion” (Crain 143). The idea that love is a treaty is one that sparked my interest and made me really think about things differently than I have before. The next section discusses God's Justice. This section was a little difficult for me at first. I don't know much about the different traditions, and it was a little difficult for me to keep the traditions and their views separate. After reading the section a few times though, it became slightly easier to distinguish. Lastly, Chapter 7 goes into the Heroic Quest. Of all the themes, this is the one I was most familiar with. This is taught often in literature classes, and is very easy to point out at many points throughout both literature and the Bible. It was still very helpful to have the themes and connections lined out in part of this chapter.


Overall, Chapter 7 of Reading the Bible as Literature an Introduction does a successful job at listing several major themes seen throughout the Bible and discussing them in a way that explains both them and the unification they provide that is easy to understand. There are plenty of examples and explanations for all of the themes presented in Chapter 7. While I was already aware of some of the themes and connections discussed throughout this chapter, the ones that I was unaware of were the ones that proved most interesting to learn about. Any reader who was coming at this book with a basic understanding of theme and how it can play into literature will easily pick up the information in this chapter and be able to go back to the Bible, and potentially other works of literature, and point out themes with relative ease. This chapter was very informative and providing many examples to assist the reader along the way. Chapter 7 definitely provided information necessary for it to be considered a successful chapter.