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BIBL 102 T27 (Sp '15) - OT Poetry

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Hartmut Scherer

on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of BIBL 102 T27 (Sp '15) - OT Poetry

(Adapted from Zondervan Academic Resources for
Grasping God's Word
OT Poetry
Over one third of the Bible is poetry.
OT poetry
on our
emotional response
to God.
It connects with us down deep, both in joy and in despair.
Song of Songs
Elements of OT poetry
uses few words to enhance their impact and power
Show me your ways, O Lord,
Teach me your paths. Ps 25:4
the most obvious is parallelism where lines represent thought units and are usually grouped in units of two or three lines:
- second line repeats idea of first line
- second line further develops idea
of first line
- second line illustrates first line
- second line contrasts with first line
- other types of parallelism not
easily classified
Figurative language
OT poetry is more like a painting than an essay
Literal, historical truth is expressed in picture language
- comparison using
“like” or “as”
- direct comparison
“As the dear pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
Indirect analogy
- comparison
without stating it
- exaggeration for
the sake of effect
“My tears have been my food day and night.” Psalm 42:3
“The Lord is my shepherd.”
Psalm 23:1
“Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.” Psalm 22:13
- attributes to one entity the characteristics
of a totally different entity
“He will cover you with his feathers,
And under his wings you will find refuge.”
Psalm 91:4
Effects and causes
– substitutes the effect
for the cause
“Let me hear joy and gladness.”
Psalm 51:8
– substitutes a part of
an entity for the whole
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 23:1
Miscellaneous figures of speech:
– when they address as if present a
person or entity not actually present
“Therefore, you kings, be wise; Be warned, you rulers of the earth.”
Psalm 2:10
– when the writer says the exact
opposite of what he really means (as
in God’s use of sarcastic irony below)
“Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
Job 38:18
– when the writer uses variant
possible meanings of a word or
sound similarities.
He hoped for justice
but there is injustice
for equity

but there is outcry
Isaiah 5:7
Interpreting OT poetry
In your observation, look closely for parallelism. Read the two or three lines of parallelism as
one thought.
As with any text in the OT we need to make the five steps in the Interpretive Journey. Here are a few guidelines for the poetry genre related to Step 1:
Locate and visualize figures of speech. Identify the kind of figure you have in the passage. Also, try to
into the
emotional world
of the image.
Unique aspects of the Psalms
Does not present doctrinal guidelines so much as examples of how to communicate our deepest emotions and needs to God.
When we find ourselves in deep despair or in jubilant celebration, Psalms teaches us to be honest and open with God.
God wants us to pour out our hearts to him and he wants to connect with us in the depths of our emotional being.
In OT poetry we are dealing with

rather than with
Poetry is characterized by terseness, a high degree of structure (parallelism), and figurative language.
OT poetry shows us how to communicate our deepest emotions to God.
Different literary genres of the Bible are like different museums.
Air and Space Museum
Appeals to
, rational arguments are central, analyze grammar and syntax
Appeals to
images are central, analyzes figures of speech
Elements of OT poetry
Figurative language
Miscellaneous figures of speech
Figures of speech involving
© Copyright 2010 Roy Tennant, http://freelargephotos.com/000503_s.jpg
National Gallery of Art
Figures of speech involving
“Lift up your heads, O you gates.” Psalm 24:7
“Your face, Lord, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8
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