Genre Analysis Problems in Genesis

Essay by defy.gravityUniversity, Bachelor'sB, November 2009

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The Bible is undoubtedly one of the most influential books in the world. Yet it is surprising that despite its position as the most widely sold and translated book in the world, it is among the least known and understood books in the English-speaking world (Miller ,143). Criticism and analysis of this ancient book is a mammoth task, for one can never be certain of anything when it comes to a book so personal and subjective like this religious text. However, it is important to remember that while the Bible is a sacred book, it is still a book and therefore open to the same criticism and analysis as any other. One of the most important questions in the analysis of the Bible is in regards to the genre of book itself, and books it contains. The question of genre is extremely crucial to the eventual understanding of the Bible because genres give readers a set of expectations and rules which aid in grasping the content in all aspects: especially plot and meaning.

But what are these genres and how can they be picked out? Perhaps the best place to start when attempting this kind of knowledge is at the beginning: the first book of the Bible, Genesis. While a vast number of analyses focus on the very question of the different genres in Genesis, the answers are vague and subjective at best and because of this and other problems, concrete decisions on genre (and as a result, meaning) will never be reached until solid definitions of terms are agreed upon. History, myth, legend and 'etiology' are the genres most often discussed by critics, yet each critic seems to have different definitions for the term and the characteristics involved. This disagreement complicates the research of genre in Genesis. The problems...