Bible as Literature, part 2

In my last post, I started talking about how it’s really helpful to read the Bible as literature, rather than a textbook. I won’t go over that here, so please take a look at that post for the groundwork.

In this post, which will be much shorter (!), I want to point out some classic story lines; ones which we can easily identify in fiction, but which we seem to gloss over when they’re in the Bible.

Story LineDescription
QuestSacrifice for a noble goal
Stranger in a Strange LandCope with change; achieve mastery
LoveLoved while being imperfect; community
RevengeJustice; turning the tables
Rags to RichesRewards follow hard work and diligence

If you were to take a minute, I bet you can think of several Bible stories which follow one or more of these story lines. Here’s a hint: “stranger in a strange land” is a direct quote from Exodus 2.22 in the King James Bible.

What did you come up with? Here’s a short list I made:

  • Quest – the conquering of Canaan
  • Stranger in a Strange Land – Moses (obvs)
  • Love – Ruth
  • Revenge – the Exodus
  • Rags to Riches – Joseph

We tend not to read the Bible the way we do fiction, and I think that causes us to miss out on theological messages which the authors are trying to communicate using these these story lines.

The Bible story which I think hits all these story lines is that of Jesus. He came on a quest to destroy the work of the evil one (1 John 3.8). He was unrecognized and unaccepted, and yet had to overcome (John 1.11-12). His motivation was love for sinful people (John 13.1). He triumphed over his enemies (Colossians 2.15). And lastly, he was crowned king (Hebrews 2.9).


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