Integrating literature and the Christian faith is a task that has concerned Christian readers through the centuries. The arts have always insisted that God’s reality is not limited to the practical, philosophical, and scientific spheres but includes the artistic world also. Just what is the relation between this artistic world and the believer’s faith in God? What does the enjoyment of beauty have to do with the central doctrines of the Christian revelation?
Many have questioned whether literature can be related to a Christian commitment. The significant thing about the Western tradition that has declared an antithesis between literature and faith is that it is either pre-Christian (Platonic) or post-biblical (the patristic era and following). The Bible itself is emphatically not a part of the tradition. There is no trace in the Bible of a negative attitude toward literature. In fact, Scripture itself is for the most part a work of literature. That is, the Bible is not primarily an expository treatise on systematic theology (though it contains this too) but rather a concrete, experiential presentation of the Christian view of reality in an artistic form.
The concept of artistic form is worth emphasizing, because Christians with a high regard for God’s infallible Word are usually so absorbed in content that they are scarcely aware of the formal characteristics of the Bible. Yet the concern with literary form is so pervasive that one cannot ignore it without drastically distorting the Bible as a written document. In a book entitled The Literary Study of the Bible, Richard G. Moulton discusses the variety of literary forms found in the Bible—epics of various types, oration, drama, lyric, ode, acrostic, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more