As our time together in The Story of Everything draws to a close, we are taking a few weeks to reflect on how God’s word has impacted us over the last few years. Last week, Pastor Andrew reflected on the remarkable unity of scripture—how it tells a single, unified story despite being written by dozens of authors over thousands of years. Having taken some time to think about the unity of scripture, I wanted to take some time this week to reflect upon another characteristic that stood out to me during our time in The Story of Everything—the remarkable diversity of scripture.
What do I mean by diversity? While the Bible does indeed tell a unified story, it tells that story in a variety of ways and through a variety of means. The 66 books of the Bible span a wide range of literary styles—from historical narrative, to poetry, to prophecy, and many more. Not every book in the bible is written the same way, not every book is written using the same techniques, and not every book can be understood in the same way or studied using the same methods.
Had God wanted, he could have easily written the entire Bible in one style, but the fact that he didn’t tells us something about him and something about ourselves. It tells us that God’s revelation of himself is far too profound to be confined to a singular style of communication, and it also tells us that we were created to process information in a diverse variety of ways as those created in his image.
Take, for example, the difference between historical narrative and poetry. If you were to read a section of historical narrative from a book like 1 Kings, you would expect to take most of what you were reading at face value. You wouldn’t expect the need to interpret much symbolism and metaphor when reading the accounts of people’s lives and when they lived and died. On the other hand, if you were to read the book of poetry like the Psalms, you might find yourself very confused if you try to read it the same way!
Understanding the genre and style of any given book of the Bible is crucial for proper interpretation, and not understanding these things has been the cause of many misunderstandings throughout history. And while it may at first seem daunting to realize that these literary realities should be taken into account in our reading of the Bible, they ultimately help us understand scripture more deeply and allow us to experience the wonder and joy of God’s full-orbed revelation to us more fully. If you imagine reading the Bible like walking up to a buffet table, you won’t find only one type of food on all the plates. Instead, you will find a diverse range of beautiful, delicious, and unique dishes that, when combined, make the experience so much more fulfilling than one food alone could ever be!
All the best,