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Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible Paperback – February 1, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

In this comprehensive introduction to Scripture, Leland Ryken organizes biblical passages into literary genres including narratives, poetry, proverbs, and drama, demonstrating that knowledge of a genre's characteristics enriches one's understanding of individual passages. Ryken offers a volume brimming over with wonderful insights into Old and New Testament books and passages--insights that have escaped most traditional commentators. Those who study, preach, or teach the Scriptures will add this book to the inner circle of reference works they always keep within reach.

"We often tend to focus on the doctrinal content of the Bible at the expense of its emotional impact. . . . Ryken emphasizes that the Bible does not appear as a theological outline with proof texts attached but as stories, visions, poems, and letters."
--John F. Brug, author of three volumes in the People's Bible Commentary

"Set forth in simple, straightforward, precise . . . language. . . . Teaching and preaching the Bible as God's Word in man's language can become more colorful, insightful, and challenging when done in the light of what Ryken has done here."
--Peter Y. DeJong, former professor of pastoral theology, Calvin Theological Seminary

About the Author

Leland Ryken (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is professor emeritus of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and the author or editor of nearly forty books, including Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 538 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (February 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801077699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801077692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven M. Lloyd on September 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I taught Hermeneutics, a course on how to study the Bible, for 13 years at S.C.S.E. I read "Words of Delight" (when it was still a two volume work) six years into my work with the school and found that it fit the bill for what I wanted to accomplish with my students.
The book is divided into four parts treating Biblical Narrative first. Part two focuses on Biblical Poetry; Part Three on Other Biblical Literary Forms and Part Four, The New Testament. Some books treat the Bible as nothing more than literature. But if you are looking for a book that helps you to appreciate the literary aspects of the Bible while at the same time addressing it as the Word of God, this book is for you.
Frankly, I am surprised that someone else hasn't already written a glowing report of this book for Amazon. I recommend it to every Bible student. It is the single-most useful book I have read on the subject. (I would also recommend a work Dr. Ryken co edited, "Dictionary of Biblical Imagery" and "The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible," and a book he co-authored with Jim Wilhoit, "Effective Bible Teaching.")
Oh, why don't I just come right out and say it, "If Leland Ryken's name is associated with it, get it.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Ryken uses this book in his Literature of the Bible class, and follows the text almost chapter-by-chapter. Hearing him talk through the concepts and their importance in biblical studies solidifies the methodology he uses in the text.
The book itself sometimes seems long and difficult to work through, but it is by deliberately working through the concepts that the method of literary interpretation starts to sink in. It is an infinitely valuable exercise that will improve your reading of virtually every biblical text and make it come alive in new ways. Remarkably, it is also an approach less in biblical studies that allows the Bible to speak for itself, and reveal its own literary forms into interpretive frameworks that every-day readers can understand.

While some scholars may contest Dr. Ryken's approach as not the same caliber as other works in biblical studies, this would be a mistake. Ryken does not delve into the ancient contexts or deal with syntactical discourse analysis of the original languages, but he takes the literary forms of the Bible as they are and allows inductive reading to take its full effect in the text. This should not happen at the expense of studying the historical contexts, but it is an often overlooked, and invaluable addition to the discipline.

Furthermore, Ryken interacts with various scholars and delineates a very reasonable approach to difficult passages, especially in Revelation where as he says "wild speculation" is rampant.
But the most immediately valuable sections, I have found, are his tips to identifying "unity and variation" in the Psalms, and identifying the sub-genre categories to "make your joy full" in reading the text, as he would say.
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Format: Paperback
Ryken's text is a great resource not only for Biblical Studies but also for general Literature Studies. There are great explanations of literary terms- I wish I had this book four years ago when I started my English Degree. The Biblical explanations are clear, and very helpful if you are not aquainted with the Bible, but can be redundant if you spent a lot of time in Sunday School. Overall, this is the best book of the term, and possibly one of the greatest textbooks Ive used in 4 years of college.
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I am only about 100 pages into this book and have to say it is great! It helps us see Biblical stories from their literary aspect and to pay attention where we have been used to disecting and jelling the story down to its "meaning". While Ryken (not Wilhoit as given above - not his last name!) is an evangelical who taught Englilsh at Wheaton and his biases show, finding a "moral" or "virtuous" purpose to the stories, his analysis in most cases is unsurpassed! This will definitely aid my study and preaching. Love it!
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I love this book! As a life-long student of the Bible who has read most of the major translations and also studied numerous Bible study editions, I found this scholarly but easy-to-read text by Dr. Ryken clarifies biblical texts and times while providing insight into all genres of literature. I highly recommend the book for Bible teachers, Bible students, pastors, and priests, but if you're a Christian poet and writer, Bible lover, and lover of literature, as I am, you will most likely consider this book your primary resource, as I do, next to the Bible itself.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a Bible exposition tool. It will add a dimension to Bible exposition that is not taught in seminaries. It also is a dimension not generally found in commentaries. It is well written. It seems that every word is measured. Dr. Ryken has distilled years of research and teaching into a single volume. Though it reads easily, I am progressing slowly through it as there is so much information on each page. I find my self highlighting passages and making notes in text. I am also reviewing what I have read and taking key information to put in a Word document for further reference. The presentation is well organized and structured. I believe laymen, like myself, and pastors will benefit greatly from reading it.
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