BibleProject | How to Read the Bible


Day 8: Design Patterns in Biblical Narrative

Design patterns are one of the key ways the biblical authors have unified the storyline of the Bible. Individual stories across the Old and New Testaments have been coordinated through repeated words and parallel themes.

One of the most important design features of biblical narrative is repetition. This technique creates patterns that guide the reader’s focus and help them know where to look for meaning. By following a word or phrase that is repeated significantly in a story or section of text, we can better decipher or grasp the main message of the text (For example, notice how the word “good” is used in Genesis 1).

Repeated words can unite a whole string of stories, but this kind of unifying technique can work in different ways too. Sometimes entire stories or scenes are designed to repeat elements of other stories. This involves not only repeated words but also parallel narrative patterns, themes, and sequences. For example, the “see and take” pattern shows up with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 16), and David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). The “salvation through waters” pattern appears in creation (Genesis 1), the flood narrative (Genesis 7-8), and the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 14).

In today’s video, we’ll take a look at these patterns and more to see how they highlight core themes of the biblical story.