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A book review of Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study by Kristie Anyabwile

A book review of Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study by Kristie Anyabwile

Stars: ****

Moody Publishers (2022)
Bible Study
160 pages

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Summary: Don’t just read the Bible literally—read it Literarily.

A lot of times, we treat Scripture like it’s all the same from Genesis to Revelation. After all, it only has one Author. Isn’t it just one big book, identical from beginning to end?

While it’s true that the Bible is unified, it is also diverse. The Bible can be grouped according to key categories, called genres, that help us to read and properly interpret the Scriptures. An understanding of these genres, and the literary themes and devices used within them, makes all the difference when encountering God’s Word.

Long-time Bible teacher Kristie Anyabwile discovered as she prepared her lessons that a single inductive approach doesn’t do justice to the variety of genres that make up the Word of God. Because Scripture is a collection of writings that spans 1,500 years, many literary styles are represented and each must be taken into account for the fullest understanding of God’s Word. Kristie shows you the immense value of studying the Bible literarily—that is, according to the literary style presented in a particular book, chapter, or passage. In Literarily, Kristie will take you through these eight distinct genres:

  • Law
  • History
  • Prophecy
  • Poetry
  • Gospels
  • Epistles
  • Wisdom
  • Apocalyptic

The Bible is an epic story that God has revealed to us through diverse genres and literary features. Its message and method are both meant to transform our hearts. Our goal as interpreters isn’t to meld the Scriptures into a bland conglomerate, but to recognize the multiple forms in which God’s Word comes to us. In so doing, we’ll encounter the ongoing story of Jesus’s redemption and learn how He calls His people to live in our complex world today.


I really found this book interesting to read. I’ve read lots of bible study books but this is the first one I’ve seen about the types of books in the bible. I was aware that there were different genres in the Bible such as history, poetry, wisdom etc. However I hadn’t stopped to think much about what that means or why it’s important to be aware of.

The author is right – understanding Bible Genres DOES transform bible study. Is what you’re reading a speech or a story? The answer will determine how you read it and what you take away from it. Using context clues is important. Kristie goes over all of this and more.

The layout of the book is that each chapter is about a different genre. After a genre introduction, the biblical version of it is talked about. For example the poetry chapter starts with talk about poetry in general. The next section is What is Biblical Poetry? The chapter talks about poetry in a way I don’t remember every learning. These poetry terms are explained through the Bible. In the Transform Your Study of Poetry section we are shown how to read the poetry sections of the Bible to get the most out of it. This is the most helpful part of the book.

I recommend this book for those learning the Bible.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.