The Literary Art of Genesis

Rediscover the Literary Genius of the Book of Genesis and Learn the Tools and Techniques to Read the Art of the Whole Bible

Curated from a video series John Higgins
In partnership with The Bible Is Art

Course Introduction

About the Course

This course started with the question, “What would you discover if you started with the presupposition that the Bible is the greatest work of literary genius?” In the past 30 years there has been an explosion of literary studies of biblical books, sections, and techniques. This course collects all the greatest insights from this literature and works through the book of Genesis, uncovering layers of insight written by the Divine Artist.

Lecturer Bio

John took his B.A. from Wheaton College in Philosophy (2007) and Bible and his M.A. from Wheaton’s Graduate school in Historical and Systematic Theology (2009). It was near the end of his undergraduate years that he started his lifelong obsession with the literary art of the Bible, leading to the launch of The Bible Is Art. John currently works in design and marketing.

The Bible is Art

The Bible is the greatest work of literary genius. In this first video, we discuss the nature of genius. In the processes we look at individual works of genius including Caravaggio’s Narcissus, Plato’s Republic, and the Gospel of Matthew.

Related Resources

Plato, The Republic

Caravaggio, Narcissus

Matthew 2:1–21

The World is Designed in Layers, Just Like Stories

The world and stories are designed in layers. One of the keys to deeply understand both the physical world and the story world is to investigate the different layers. I look at the layers of the world and how to study them (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, sociology) and the layers in literature including an example from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The Art of Literary Organization

In this video we explore the art of literary organization with examples from Genesis and the first five books of the Bible.

Related Resources

David A. Dorsey, The Literary Study of the Old Testament, 21–25.

Symbolism in the Structure of Genesis

I talk about the symbolism of the structure in Genesis and the purpose for the variation of the genres between narrative and genealogy.

The Symbolism of 10: Creation, Plagues, and Commandments

In this video I look at the symbolism of 10 in the literary structure of Genesis, the plagues, and the Ten Commandments.

Related Resources

Warren Austin Gage, The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology, 7–15.

The Symbolism of Seven in Genesis 1

In this video I explore the subtle symbolism of the number seven in Genesis 1.

The Art of Tension: Genesis 1:2

I explore how the author of Genesis introduces tension along with the art of literary overture. And Romeo and Juliet make an appearance.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:1–3

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2.

The First Words of the First Character: Genesis 1:3

In this section, I explore the first words and first actions of the main character in Genesis. We look at why the narrator has chosen these words and this action and discover how these words and actions will repeat and vary as God acts in the rest of Genesis.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:3

Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 143–162.

The Art of Story Structure

In this video I explore the two main ways biblical authors structure their stories. We look at some fascinating examples in the whole Joseph and Abraham narratives as well as the book of Jonah.

Related Resources

David A. Dorsey, The Literary Study of the Old Testament, 26–41.

The Literary Design of Genesis 1

In this video I look at the literary structure of Genesis Chapter 1 and three reasons for the artistic structure.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:1–31

Meredith Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 8–30.

The Art of Foreshadowing; or Weird Things in Genesis 1

In this video I look at some weird and wonderful details in the narrative of Genesis 1 and show how they resolve into a beautifully designed foreshadowing.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:1–31

Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 143–162.

The Sky In Between: The Literary Art of Genesis 1:6–8

In this week’s video we look the literary art in Day 2 of the creation week. We explore the characterization of God and how his action on Day 2 is the theme for fascinating variations in the rest of Genesis and Exodus.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:6–8

Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Volume 1

God's Characterization on Day 3: Genesis 1:9–13

In this video I look at the distinctive features of Day 3 of the creation week. We will discover how God’s characterization on this day unfolds how he works in other biblical stories including the Abraham narrative and the story of Jesus.

Related Resources

Genesis 1:9–13

Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Volume 1