OTB7 – Choices of Old Testament literary types and topics

© Jeff Stacey | Last updated:  12 May 2020

OTB7(a)  Types of literature and the topics mentioned in the Old Testament

There are various kinds of written records in the Bible [OTB2].  These types of literature include quoted speech, poetry, situation descriptions, narratives of events, prophecies, as well as comments by the authors.  This is the raw Bible data on which all of these Charts and detailed explanations are based.

OTB7(b)  What influenced the authors of the Old Testament in their selection of the literary types used, topics mentioned and amount of space devoted to each of them?

The Old Testament documents were probably written originally on scrolls of animal skins (vellum) or even on stone or clay tablets.  Later copies would also have been written in similar ways or on parchment.  So there would have been severe limitations on their total size.  They could not be too big for convenient handling and storing, as well as for preserving from damage and decay.  Writing and copying them would also have required a major human effort.

All of these factors would have put the authors under pressures to keep everything brief.  So selection from the sources available to them would have been vital.  How much space to devote to each topic would have involved further editorial decisions.

Yet the finished text had to be a coherent narrative, not just a summary or list of points.  Differing literary types were also involved.

Therefore the amount of text, or even repetitions of it, that deals with any topic can be assumed to indicate each author’s understanding of the importance or significance of that topic.

Knowing these quantities can help us better understand any part of the Bible.  It also ensures that material relevant to each box in the Charts has not been overlooked.

OTB7(c)   Analysing the contents of the Old Testament

The contents of each book have been dissected under various carefully chosen literary types and/or topic descriptions that refer to each box in the Charts for each Era.

I have done this in a rather “engineering” manner (an exercise in attempting to “rightly divide the word of truth”!  2Tim 2:15 (KJV)).   After meticulously dissecting the text of each book, I compiled statistics to quantify them.  This was all done primarily for my own purposes, to avoid overlooking relevant material.  My aim was to ensure that the Chart structures are thoroughly based directly on the biblical texts.

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