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In preaching and teaching the Bible, is it really necessary in this age of need-oriented sermons and topical Bible studies to pay attention to the particular genre of the biblical passages we use? In fact, should those of us involved in the process of deriving and communicating relevant principles from a biblical passage even attend to the genre of the passage? And even if we grant that preachers and teachers should do so, must we take the time and energy to inform our hearers of the type of biblical literature that is before them? Should we preachers and teachers use our valuable communication time to explain the traits of the genre of our biblical passage? Is this really necessary in the process of expounding timeless principles from God’s Word for needy listeners? These are important questions to those of us who desire to communicate the Word of God in a culture with decreasing patience and increasing pragmatism. Therefore, my goal is to strike at the heart of this matter by answering two central questions:

Why should preachers and teachers attend to the genres of the Bible in their ministry?
And, if they should,
How should preachers and teachers attend to the genres of the Bible in their ministry?

This article is adapted from Dr. Russell's chapter, “Literary Forms in the Hands of Preachers and Teachers,” in Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Forms of the Old Testament, edited by D. Brent Sandy and Ronald L. Giese, Jr. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995) pages 281-298.

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