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Making Sense of the Bible: Literary Type as an Approach to Understanding Paperback – March 13, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (March 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802849199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802849199
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

For the most part, literary typology as an instrument of interpretation has been the province of academics. In this brief volume, Johnson shows remarkable success in broadening that use to a wide, nonacademic audience. The author's approach, as suits his project, is not a book-by-book exposition of the Bible but a more synoptic discussion of groups of books by type, e.g., history or prophecy. Thus, Daniel and the Revelation to John appear together, as do Chronicles and Acts. This eminently sensible and attractively written book deserves a broad audience. Highly recommended.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

Currents in Theology & Mission
"A no-nonsense guide to understanding the Bible. . . . Consider it for your parish library; it's brief, but helpful."

Dale C. Allison Jr.
"This is a superb introduction to the Bible and its various literary types. Marshall Johnson is a sure and careful guide whose splendid clarity helpfully exposes both the diversity of the biblical documents as well as their common emphases. Readers will find this brief but wide-ranging book full of wise, practical advice."

Library Journal
"For the most part, literary typology as an instrument of interpretation has been the province of academics. In this brief volume, Johnson shows remarkable success in broadening that use to a wide, nonacademic audience. . . . This eminently sensible and attractively written book deserves a broad audience. Highly recommended."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By John T. Farrell on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Frank Kermode once remarked that the literary impulse in the Bible was quite as powerful as the religious. At the very least, they are inextricable. And yet, despite the significance of the literary impulse in making sense of Scripture, study of literary typology and analysis of literary form have been largely reserved to the scholarly realm.
Into this void comes Marshall Johnson's useful and knowledgeable book. Marshall introduces general readers to the major types of biblical literature -- wisdom literature, the poetry of worship, historical narrative, prophetic writings, legal collections, apocalyptic literature, letters, and the Gospels. In successive chapters, he fully delineates each type, reviews its background, discusses its distinctive features, explicates several major examples, and includes a final section of how to "read" the particular form. Johnson accomplishes all this in clear, readable, and non-technical prose.
As is often the case with books I wish I had written myself, I have some questions about several of Johnson's choices. For instance, is the Book of Job truly an example of "wisdom literature" or should it be treated separately as a unique type of biblical literature, perhaps as a poetic dialogue? Can Isaiah, a complex blend of historical experience and poetic concerns, be as easily pigeonholed into the category of "prophetic literature" as Marshall believes?
But these are mere quibbles. Johnson's knowledge of the Bible is voluminous, his theology is mainstream, and his perceptions are telling. His overarching goals are to help readers grasp the shape of the Bible as a whole and to become self-aware in their dialogue with the text. To this end, Marshall D. Johnson has written an excellent book, one which I strongly recommend. The highest accolade I can give "Making Sense of the Bible" is that, if I were still teaching my course on "The Bible and Literature" at Drexel University, I'd use it as a textbook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Georgia Conservative on May 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended for those who need to understand the Bible better from a literary perspective. Would make a good auxiliary text for a course in Literature of the Bible, World Literature, or (gasp) Western World Literature--if such courses still exist as a balanced approach in our PC times. Not overdone but sufficient.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marlo Young on July 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Making Sense of the Bible has taught me how to recognize diverse kinds of literature that make up the Holy Bible.
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By Tiffany K. Boyer on September 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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