"It will greatly help you to understand scripture if you note – not only what is spoken and written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows."
McKenzie explores the notion of genres in the bible. He claims that certain books within the bible are of different genres and therefore have different purposes, contexts, and methods to convey truth. Some are literal, others are figurative, some satirical, others poetic, some prophetic, and others historic. He also elaborates on the ancient concepts of prophecy, history and literature and how they differ from modern understanding. I learned greatly from this book, although I did not agree with many of its conclusions. But the most important thing to be gained from books like these is this: Literalists often accuse nonliteralists (or partly literalists) of not taking the bible seriously or randomly picking and choosing which parts to take literally or not. I am finding that many people who hold alternative views DO indeed take the bible seriously, more seriously than I have, if I am being honest. They take it SO seriously that they have learned the original languages fluently to read and compare the earliest manuscripts of the bible and have mastered the histories and cultures from which bible texts emerged to better understand the context, language, purpose, and style.
Now, that doesn't mean that every conclusion nonliteralists/partly-literalists arrive at is the end all be all, it just means that accusing them of haphazardly picking the parts of the bible that suits their tastes to be taken literally is just not the case. I was guilty of making that accusation as a teenager. Now, I realize there is a very in depth process of sifting through biblical text and uncovering their genre, intent, and meaning. Agree or disagree with the conclusions, but give credit where credit is due. McKenzie, in particular, holds the Bible in VERY HIGH REGARD and asserts that there is nothing wrong with the bible, but only people's understanding of it. The debate is not about IF the bible is truth, but which form truth takes in each book of the Bible. His analysis of the book of Jonah was absolutely astounding. I will forever read the book of Jonah with new eyes because of it.
Read, if you dare. :)
"The Bible is a harp with a thousand strings. Play on one to the exclusion of its relationship to the others, and you will develop discord. Play on all of them, keeping them in their places in the divine scale, and you will hear heavenly music all the time."