Book Review: A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible (Leland Ryken)

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Leland Ryken’s contribution to our understanding of how God’s Word operates has been of immense value. Ryken has given us so many resources to help us better grasp what the Bible is, how we can interpret it, and why we should rejoice in it. He has opened up for us new lenses for looking into the Word, and gaining undiscovered insights from it.

In this handbook released by Crossway, Ryken has dissected the Bible cover-to-cover in search of discovering how God speaks to us through literary forms. We’ve all spent time in school studying the literary forms used by Shakespeare, Homer, and such, but the Bible boasts these same themes and subjects as well, and to ignore such literary analysis of the Bible is to be exegetically lazy.

I am so thankful for the labor and patience Ryken put into this project. It will be a widely-used reference point in everything from personal Bible study to sermon preparation. I know I will be using this resource decades down the road in my quest to know the Bible better and to read God’s Word for what it is.

Inside, you’ll find a complete concordance-like list of literary forms Ryken has expounded on, providing descriptions of what these forms are, how they operate in some example texts, and some significance for those terms being used measured against the whole of the Bible. While a book of true “completeness” would be thousands upon thousands of pages, Ryken has labored to highlight and pinpoint the most significant of the literary forms. Some have said that not all literary forms are included in this volume, but I feel that doesn’t diminish the handbook’s value and worth. My only complaint for the book is that I wish some of the forms were a little more thoroughly explained and applied to Biblical examples. While a great majority of these forms have Scriptural examples, a few don’t, and some have little explanation altogether. Nonetheless, I am very glad to have gotten this handbook.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this book transforms my studies of the Scriptures, and I encourage anyone who wants to get to know God’s Word better, whether for preaching, teaching, education, or simply personal study, to check this book out.

Stars: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Crossway who sent me this book in exchange for my honest review.

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