Take a guided tour on how to interpret the New Testament epistles. Leland Ryken shows pastors and students and teachers of the Bible how to appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of the New Testament letters. In Letters of Grace and Beauty, he explores the intersection of the Bible and ancient letter writing. And he goes one step further than merely explaining the literary dimensions of the epistles—he includes exercises to help students of the Bible master them.
In the Reading the Bible as Literature series, Leland Ryken explores the intersection of the Bible and literature. In the series preface he writes, “It is my belief that a literary approach to the Bible is the common reader’s friend, in contrast to the more specialized types of scholarship on the Bible.”
Leland Ryken has been a pacesetter in the literary study of the Bible, especially within the evangelical community. Those of us who find this approach to Scripture especially enriching are always ready to listen when Ryken speaks. Readers who master Ryken’s principles will find the Bible open up to them in new, exciting ways.
—Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Chair and Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
“To exhort is to utter urgent advice and strongly encourage someone either to believe an idea or to act in a certain way.” (Page 76)
“Another fallacy is that the paragraphs in an epistle are seamlessly woven together by tight logical coherence.” (Page 84)
“The most pervasive fallacy regarding the structure of the epistles is that they are structured like an essay or sermon” (Page 83)
“Paraenesis is not simply exhortation but a concentrated unit of exhortation packaged as a sequence of commands” (Page 66)
“Here is a brief list of traits in a letter of friendship, whether in antiquity or today: (1) naming the recipients either as individuals or a group; (2) references to shared experiences, either past or present; (3) friendship offered as the basis for a request; (4) expression of feelings that are part of friendship; (5) statements of longing to be present with the recipients. All of these are common in the epistles.” (Pages 26–27)
Leland Ryken (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is Professor of English Emeritus at Wheaton College, where he has taught since 1968. He is the author of more than 50 books, including How to Read the Bible as Literature, Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible, Windows to the World: Literature in Christian Perspective, and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible.