Chapter seven of Reading the Bible as Literature, written by Jeanie C. Crain, is called Themes and Motifs: A Way of Unifying. This chapter goes in to d3etails about the themes of the Bible. There are many themes that are discussed in this chapter including relationship to God and with other human beings: the Decalogue, the Shema and the heroic quest. This will start off with background information that will help the reader of this review understand what is going on before the chapter dive in to the meat of the themes and motifs. The contents of the book will be included along with the audience and purpose for this chapter. There will then be an evaluation and reaction to this chapter as a whole.
This chapter, like the others in this book, starts off with preliminary considerations that provide information to get the reader started and thinking about what is going to come in the chapter. The chapter then goes on to discuss the themes and motifs of the Bible. The author gives the reader a bit of a warning in the preliminary considerations that this is one of the most difficult chapters and that is one reason that it is the last chapter. After the preliminary considerations, the chapter goes on to the Major Themes in the Bible. This is the meat of the chapter and is followed up by the Close Reading and Questions for Reflections. The audience for this chapter is mainly student studying religion or literature. The audience also includes anyone trying to deepen their beliefs and knowledge about religion and the Bible. The most important thing is that the audience of this chapter needs to be dedicated and interested in looking at the Bible to dig deep into the themes and motifs.
Chapter seven of Reading the Bible as Literature, starts off with some Preliminary Considerations. In this section, the author, Jeanie C. Crain, provides the reader with some information that prepares the reader for the chapter. This vital background information includes some definitions, objections to thematic analysis and how the Bible has traditionally been read. The most important definition given is theme which is “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” (pg. 130). This is the most important definition for the obvious reason that it is the main focus of the chapter.
The next point is Major Themes in the Bible. This is the start of the meat of the chapter. In this section the author will dive into the major themes of the Bible. The first sub section is Relationship to God and with Other Human Beings: the Decalogue. This section dives into discussion about the Decalogue, which is the name given to the Ten Commandments. A good amount of this section focuses on some topics that have come up about the Ten Commandments.
The next sub section is called The Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God is One.” This section starts to talk about “the Shema, named for the first word, “Hear,” calls attention to a sovereign and unique God to whom Israel must be loyal, to whom it must devote mind, will, and vital being” (pg. 136). This section talks about inclusive vs exclusive monotheism and talks some about a few of the commandments.
The next sub section is “He Declared to You his Covenant”: Relationship based upon Promise and Obligation. This section starts by talking a little bit about the Ten Commandments and then talks about relationships with human beings.
The next four sub sections are The Noahic Covenant, The Abrahamic Covenant, The Mosaic Covenant, and The Davidic Covenant. In these four sub sections, the author discusses God’s covenants with these people or groups.
The next two sub sections are God’s Mercy: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” and God’s Justice. These two sections discuss God as a character. It also discusses “the apparent paradox between a God executing plan, promise, and obligation and a God exercising pity, compassion, and love” (pg. 142). The last sub section is The Heroic Quest. This section talks about the heroic theme that is common to literature. This section gives some examples of where the heroic theme might be found in the Bible. The chapter finishes up with Close Reading and Questions for Reflection.
The goal of this chapter has been achieved. The author warns the reader at the beginning of the chapter about the difficulty and the author does a great job at helping the reader navigate through the tough topic of themes. The author does this by providing the reader with explanation and examples. The examples are extremely helpful in this chapter because it is important to be able to recognize where the author is getting the themes from. It is also helpful because the reader can then go on to looking at the Bible on their own time and finding similar examples.
There are many possibilities that are suggested by this chapter. The author does a great job at providing ways for the reader to further their knowledge after reading the chapter. It is a possibility that the questions and close reading could be a great way to start conversation within a group. If there was a group that wanted to discuss the chapter, these would be great talking and researching points. The way that the author explains everything so well also provides the possibility of the reader learning the topic so well that they can help teach it to someone else.
The words that are in italics throughout the chapter are helpful for the reader as well. This gives the reader an insight into the author’s mind and it kind of helps the reader to relate to the author because they know that they author understands where the reader is coming from. Without these words, the reader may feel disconnected from the author and therefore have a harder time focusing.
In conclusion, chapter seven of Reading the Bible as Literature focuses on themes and motifs. The author starts out with some background information and then provides great details and examples to help the reader understand the themes and motifs. The chapter wraps up with some opportunities to further the knowledge and research a little more about the topic. The chapter does a great job at achieving its goal and providing possibilities for the readers.