Generic criticism — What is it?

Generic criticism deals with the process of quantifying different types of speaking or writing into the correct category or genre. In this case, the word criticism is used to mean "analysis." A genre is: "a category of artistic work, such as music or literature, characterized by a certain form, style, or subject matter." Therefore, generic criticism analyzes a composition to determine which genre it should be categorized within. In music, classical is one genre while hip-hop is another genre. In literature, some genres include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. When applying generic criticism to books or passages in the Bible, they would be categorized into genres such as narrative, history, poetry, or prophecy.

Many books in the early Old Testament fall into the genre of historical narrative because they write about real history in story-form. Some historical narrative books include: Genesis, much of Exodus, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Psalms and Proverbs fall into the wisdom-literature genre, which is focused on providing useful practical wisdom for everyday life.

In the New Testament, many of the books written by Paul are classified into the epistle genre because they were originally personal letters. Some examples of the Pauline epistles include: 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. As readers, when we know that certain books are epistles, it will help us to understand the tone of the writing and the reason that the books include such personal greetings to specific people.

As with other types of criticism, generic criticism can be a useful tool that can help us to better understand the Bible and the specific contexts of some of its books, enabling us to better "rightly handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

Related Truth:

What is textual criticism?

Form criticism — What is it?

Ideological criticism — What is it?

Narrative criticism — What is it?

Is the Bible really the Word of God?

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