Old Testament Poetry

How much of the Bible is comprised of poetry?

Which books of the Bible are poetic?
Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Lamentations

What does the poetry of the OT focus on?
It focuses on our emotional response to God as well as our emotional response to those who are hostile to God and his people

Jet Engines and Paintings
Moving from NT letters to OT poetry is going from the Air and Space Museum to a Art Gallery

What is the difference between NT letters and OT poetry?
NT letters focus on propositional truth, presented rationally and logically. OT poetry deals with the emotional impact.

What are central features of OT poetic texts?
terseness, a high degree of structure, and figurative imagery

What is terseness?
when poetry uses a minimum number of words

What types of structure are there in OT poetry?
Parallelism and Acrostics

Parallelism Structure
When two lines of poetry are grouped together to express one thought, it is a dominant structural characteristics

Why are the different types of parallelism?
Synonymous, developmental, illustrative, contrastive, and formal

Synonymous Parallelism
This involves a close similarity between lines using words with similar meanings

Developmental Parallelism
The second line develops further the idea of the first

Illustrative Parallelism
line A conveys the idea and line B illustrates it with an example or symbol

Contrastive Parallelism
employs the use of contrast, line B is contrasted with line A

Formal Parallelism
a “miscellaneous” category to catch the remaining types of parallelism that do not fall into the other categories

What is the most dominant structural characteristic of OT poetry?

Acrostic Structure
A poem in which each successive line of poetry starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet

Figurative Imagery
When the poem paints pictures and using figurative language

What are the authors conveying?
They are conveying real thoughts, events, and emotions to us- that is, literal truth, but they express this truth figuratively

OT poetic texts can be placed into what two major categories?
figures involving analogy and figures involving substitution

What are the parts of the figures of speech involving analogy?
Simile, metaphor, indirect analogy, hyperbole, personification/anthropomorphism/zoomorphism

This figure of speech makes a comparison by using the words like or as to explicitly state that one thing resembles another

make an analogy between items by direct statement without the use of like or as

Indirect analogy (know as hypokatastasis)
it uses the analogous item without directly stating the comparison, assumes the reader can make the comparison

a “conscious exaggeration for the sake of effect”

attributing human features or human characteristics to nonhuman entities

representation of God with human features or human characteristics

when other nonhuman images for God are used like animals and inanimate objects

What are the figures of speech involving substitution?
Effects and causes(also known as metonymy) and representation(also known as synecedoche)

Effects and Causes
when someone attempts to express himself colorfully and substitutes the effect for the cause

when poets substitute a representative part of an entity instead of the entity itself

What are the miscellaneous figures of speech?
apostrophe and irony

Miscellaneous figures of speech
When some figures fall outside of the categories of analogy and substitution

apostrophes are used as if a present or person or entity is not actually present, they do this to express strong feelings or to stress a particular point

When the writer says the exact opposite of what he really means

Word plays
When they play of variant possible meanings of a word or when they play off sound similarities

poetry is used…
often in prophetic literature, wisdom literature, and in the Psalms

What does Psalms do?
It gives us inspired models of how to talk and sing to God

What do Christians fail to recognize?
That the Bible also contains words spoken to God or about God- which is what the Psalms do

What can the Psalms be categorized into of the three main contexts of human life?
“seasons of well-being that evoke gratitude for the constancy of blessing,” “anguished seasons of hurt, alienation, suffering, and death”, and seasons of “surprise when we are overwhelmed with the new gifts of God, when joy breaks through the despair

How does the Psalms help us?
give us a guide to serious worship, help us relate honestly to God, and lead us into reflection and meditation on what God has done for us