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Through the Bible: Poetic Literature

Through the Bible (Prayer Meeting)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A brief overview of poetic literature.

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What is poetic literature? Much of the OT is poetic in spirit and structure – we often find passages of elevated poetry, and the use of powerful imagery.

Much of the OT is poetic in spirit and structure – we often find passages of elevated poetry, and the use of powerful imagery.
One way in which you can quickly tell if Scripture is poetic is by noticing an overlooked feature in our English bibles. If you look at the book of Psalms, for example, you will see that the typeface and spacing is different to the rest of the books of the bible – as a result, you see wider margins. This is deliberate – the parallel lines help us to see the flow of the text, especially since Hebrew poetry is unlike English poetry in significant ways.

Primary Poetic Books: Psalms ,Song of Solomon and Lamentations

Song of Solomon
Primarily Psalms when we think of it. But most of the OT has Poetry in it. .
Only Lev, Ruth, Esther. Haggai and Malachi don’t have it.

Best Clue To Know A Text is Poetic: Your Bible formats it differently.

One way in which you can quickly tell if Scripture is poetic is by noticing an overlooked feature in our English bibles. If you look at the book of Psalms, for example, you will see that the typeface and spacing is different to the rest of the books of the bible – as a result, you see wider margins. This is deliberate – the parallel lines help us to see the flow of the text, especially since Hebrew poetry is unlike English poetry in significant ways.

Hebrew poetry, by it’s very nature, was addressed to the mind through the heart.

The language is intentionally emotive. Helping us to understand a biblical truth by addressing our hearts to teach our minds.

Like narratives, poetry is not doctrinal exposition.

It teaches and conveys doctrine but not in the same way as direct teaching.

Some Hebrew poetry is set to music: primarily the Psalms

Main Features of Poetic Literature

The Hebrew language was an ideal instrument for expressing poetic speech. Its simplicity of form allowed for a combined intensity of feeling and pictorial power, and allowed great play of imagination. Some of the features we see are:

Symbolic Language (Figures, metaphors, hyperbole, etc.) is extremely common ()

Types of symbolic language (See table)
Image
Metaphor
Simile
Personification
Hyperbole
Apostrophe

The normal unit of Hebrew verse is the couplet of two parallel lines. ()

Couplets
As far as can be determined meter is absent from biblical poetry.
Meter is absent

As far as can be determined meter is absent from biblical poetry.

iv.
Certainly there is little concern for the careful meter which marks classic Greek and Latin as well as much of English poetry.

On the other hand, Hebrew poetry is rhythmical, one of its distinguishing features.

Rhythm in Hebrew poetry, however, is not confined to the balance of accent or beat in a line. The meaning of the words and their position in the line are significant—a feature called parallelism – which we discussed last week.

Parallelism (discussed last week)

Synonymous ()
Synonymous ()
Antithetic ()
b.
Antithetic (Pr
13:9)
Synthetic (,)
Synthetic (,)

Acrostic () (Also discussed last week)

Acrostic (
Luke 23:34 ESV
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Hebrew poetry, by it’s very nature, was addressed to the mind through the heart.

The most important thing to know is that. The language is intentionally emotive. Helping us to understand a biblical truth by addressing our hearts to teach our minds.
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