The Bible Literary Elements

The Bible Literary Elements


Sacred text, with poetry, history, and prose

Setting and Context

The Middle East and Northeast Africa; Turkey. The events have no temporal restriction, and the context is that the books are to be held as canon

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator transitions throughout the Bible because it is written by so many authors. Some of these narrative strategies include a general narrator, chronicles by followers, or disciples, of Jesus that are placed within letters, or epistles, and romantic poetry. The point of view is often historically-based; for instance, genealogies abound and so do historical signifiers.

Tone and Mood

Tone - serious, berating, joyous, calming, soothing (transition)
Mood - fear, reassurance, peace (transition)

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonists - God, love, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, humans and their freedom; Antagonists - sin, temptation, and the worst impulses of humans

Major Conflict

God provides guidance and care to people who continue to turn from Him. This angers Him, for he is good and frustrated that they constantly go back to their old ways.


God decides to send his only son to Earth so he can die as a sacrificial offering and free humankind from being permanently tainted by sin.


There is lots of foreshadowing about the nature of Jesus's life that ranges from large-scale prophecy to smaller observations about how he will conduct himself.


Characters throughout the Bible often understate or do not understand how severe their sin is. Other characters cannot state clearly the depth of their pain or joy.


The Bible alludes to common guidelines of the time regarding methods of livelihood, and it alludes to common histories shared among people. It references common architectural, intellectual, and agricultural practices at the time.


The Bible includes pastoral imagery and descriptions of towns and cities through which Jesus and the Disciples travelled.


God outlines methods for righteousness, but because humans cannot fully follow them, belief in God's one true son as such is the only way to accept forgiveness. This gap provides the devil with a method to taunt Jesus, but ultimately this paradox is intended to save people.


People grow in the way plants do: good teachings "water" humans, who grow into strong believers through constant support and the fertility of virtue. Parables are repeated throughout the New Testament, or the part of the Bible written in response to the birth of Jesus. Each of these sets up a form of parallelism that can be understood in relation to many different circumstances.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Metonymy - speaking of weapons used to cause a wound, even when the wound is the critical thing, as in Job 6:4
Synecdoche - Matthew 6:11, which provides the line in the Lord's Prayer, "give us this day our daily bread." Jesus does not mean for us to thank God only for bread but instead for the survival and support of another day.


Growing things, such as fruit, are personified throughout the book so people can understand what Jesus's Parables mean for themselves. For instance, the presentation of soil and how it accepts or rejects seed is emphasized using personification and an emotional response.

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