Weekly Article Blog

Senior Pastor Dan Hawn publishes a weekly article which is also emailed to members and regular attenders.  Let us know if you would like to receive this weekly article via email.

Playing by the Rules, Part 1

“Playing by the Rules” is the title of a book by Robert Stein, who was a seminary professor of mine in the early 1990’s. The book is a basic guide for understanding & interpreting the Bible.

Stein defines “understanding” as having a correct mental grasp of the author’s meaning, or the meaning willed by the author.

To achieve this understanding, we must take into account the literary genre the author uses to convey his meaning. This is important because each literary genre has its own set of “rules” for understanding the meanings contained therein.

Here’s a list of the major literary genres of the Bible:

Old Testament                                     New Testament

Historical narrative                             Gospel*

Law                                                     Epistle (or letter)

Poetry                                                  Revelation**



*A unique type of biography.

**A unique combination of epistle & prophecy.

We don’t have a lot of practice reading several of the genres found in the Bible, especially if our reading is limited to novels, news articles and Facebook postings. (That most Americans do so little reading at all is a subject for another day.)

Due to our unfamiliarity with certain literary genres found in the Bible, we tend to avoid those genres, or simply pick out a verse here or a verse there. This is a major hindrance in our spiritual development because the Bible declares “ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

The next several months will be a time of stretching for us.

In Core Connect this semester, we’re studying the minor prophets (or last 12 books of the Old Testament), hence we’re dealing with the genre of Prophecy (and Poetry). This Sunday, we’ll begin a series in Ecclesiastes, one of the Wisdom books.

I’ll provide some of the “rules” for reading these genres in subsequent articles.

Meanwhile, I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that, for some reason, God decided to reveal himself to humanity via a book comprised of numerous literary genres. Let us honor him through our diligent study. 

Pastor Dan