Continuing our look at Leland Ryken’s recent publication A Christian Guide to the Classics (Crossway, 2015), we are considering the content of chapter 4, in which Ryken treats the greatest classic of literature, the Bible.
Previously, we looked at what this means in general (that the Bible is a literary classic). Then we considered some objections that can be raised when viewing the Bible this way. Last time and now today we consider some of the literary traits of the Bible, which is what Ryken discusses in the next section.
This is the way he describes the second trait of the Bible as classic literature:
A second way in which the Bible meets literary criteria is the preponderance of literary genres that we find within its covers. The overall format of the Bible is that of the literary anthology – a collection of individual works composed by multiple authors and falling into familiar literary categories. The dominant genre is narrative or story. Poetry is the next prevalent genre. Both of those fall into dozens of subtypes – hero story, tragedy, parable, praise, psalm, love poem, and so forth. In the Bible we find satire, visionary writing, epistles, and proverbs.
Despite its unique features, the anthology that we know as the Bible (a word that means “little books”) is thoroughly familiar to people who have had experience with literary anthologies like The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
We will save the third trait for next time.