Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
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Definition of word.


In literature, setting refers to (1) the physical, (2) the historical, and (3) the social environments in which a story unfolds.  All events occurs in (1) a place in space, (2) a point in time, and (3) a condition of existence.  Some forms of literature (e.g., a poem about a flower) may omit one or all aspects of setting.  Most works of literature, that include characters, will also include all three aspects of setting. 

A writing may include primary and secondary settings in all three descriptions of setting (place, time, and condition).  A clear example of a primary and a secondary setting is evident in the Book of Ruth regarding geography.  The book opens with the characters leaving Bethlehem, Judah of Israel for the country of Moab. The characters return to Bethlehem after the first 19 verses of the first chapter.  The remaing three chapters are set in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem is the primary physical setting; Moab is the secondary physical setting. 

A setting that changes through a writing is a dynamic setting; a setting that remains constant through a writing is a static setting.  To illustrate, the Book of Numbers opens "in the Wilderness of Sinai" (Nu. 1:1) with the first generation of Israelites who escaped Egyptian slavery and closes "in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho" (Nu. 36:13) with the second generation of Israelites who entered the Promised Land.  The cultural context or social setting of the book is the nomatic, ancient Israelites.  Therefore, the geographical setting and historical setting are dynamic settings.  The social context is a static setting.

See geographical setting, historical setting, and social setting to learn more.

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.