Literary Genre: Logic

Literary genre is a category of written works. Recognizing the type of writing prepares one for how to read and observe the text. For example, logic literature is typically (but not always) an expository letter written to either a friend or church in response to an issue brought up by the reader. The letter provides a logical presentation of the truth or doctrine to persuade the church to a particular action to a problem.

The church problems are usually difficult issues and the logical presentation validates the church's firm response and precedence of action. The epistles of Paul largely make up this category of literature and demonstrate consistent systematic and reasoned arguments.

I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. (Acts 22:3, NKJV)

In his statement, Paul indicates his background and training - birth in Tarsus, a city known for its university level Greco-Roman education, and his religious education under Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers of Judaism.

There are lots of examples of this genre: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Jude.

Much of the Bible's logic literature is in the form of syllogism which is a type of reasoning that allows the reader to deduce the conclusion. A common syllogism is a three-part argument.

In this example, Jesus speaks to the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection (Matt 22:23):

But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?" God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matt 22:31-32, NKJV)

1. Statement: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

2. Statement: God said I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (they died over a thousand years earlier).

3. Deduction (the Conclusion): Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must be alive.

In this example, Paul is appealing the nation of Israel to be saved – their understanding of God's righteousness is not grounded on the knowledge of God's word (Rom 10:1-4).

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17, NKJV)

1. Statement: Faith comes by hearing.

2. Statement: Hearing by the word of God.

3. Deduction (the Conclusion): Faith comes by listening (and obeying) the word of God.

Another form of syllogism is enthymemes in which the conclusion is stated while one premise is not.

In this example, Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him in his pastoral duties, because the times are perilous: "For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim 3:2-5, NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17, NKJV)

1. Statement: All Scripture by inspiration of God and profitable as guidance in life.

2. Conclusion Statement: The Believer may be complete and equipped for every good work.

3. Deduction (the Statement): The Believer must study God's word.

The logical sequence would be as follows:

1. All Scripture by inspiration of God and profitable as guidance in life.

2. The Believer must study God's word.

3. The Believer may be complete and equipped for every good work.

How should you read logic literature?

  • Read the whole letter in one sitting to observe the presentation of logic.

  • Consider breaking up the passage by its syntax to see the logical arguments and their sequence of reason.

  • Understand the issue / problem at hand by looking for the reason for the letter and the recipients of the epistle.

  • Examine what the author is exhorting and understand the concern of the writer: what is the mood of the letter?

Try this example as a class exercise. What are the statements and what conclusion do you deduce?

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:11-12, NKJV)

Copyright © 2022 All rights to this material are reserved. We encourage you to print the material for personal and non-profit use or link to this site. If you find this article to be a blessing, please share the link so that it may rise in search engine rankings.