(Book review) Letters of Grace and Beauty: A Guided Literary Study of New Testament Epistles


Reviewed by: Rylie D. Harrison, a professional writing major at Taylor University

 


Introduction

Title: Letters of Grace and Beauty: A Guided Literary Study of New Testament Epistles

Author: Leland Ryken

Publisher: Weaver Book Company

Publication Date: 2016

Format: Print book

Length: 110 pages

OVERVIEW

In this third book of a six-volume series on how to read the Bible as literature, Leland Ryken presents the concept of interpreting the New Testament epistles through a literary lens. He begins by dispelling many misconceptions surrounding literature, particularly in a biblical context. Step by step, Ryken takes the reader through the different elements of letters, making important distinctions between modern and ancient writing styles. Literary devices are explained within the context of the genre and how this should affect an individual’s interpretation of the passages in question. At the end of each chapter, there is a section that allows the reader to apply the concepts discussed. For some students of the Bible, this use of analyzing metaphors, similes, anecdotes, parables, artistic adjectives, and syntactical structuring may be a bit “over the top” and more tangential to the biblical meaning than traditional interpretations of letters from the apostles. On the other hand, for Christians well-grounded in their faith, this may be a refreshing new approach to enjoying familiar texts.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

3 stars

Suggested Audience

The book will appeal to both a male and female adult audience. Because of its obvious literary nature, it will be more applicable for people who enjoy analytical reading of classic literature.

Christian Impact

Ryken does a good job of addressing any concerns readers may have in regard to viewing the epistles as literature. Rather than claim the superiority of his method, he simply adds it as another possible method of interpretation. He presents biblical evidence to support his statements without falling into proof-texting.

Other Notes:

Whereas the book does present a good argument for a literary reading of the epistles, it falls flat in application because this method does not do much to change how most people would go about interpreting various books of the New Testament. For an in-depth analysis of the New Testament epistles, there are other books deeper and more worthwhile.



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About Evangelical Church Library Association

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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