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Leland Ryken's glossary words, O - W (Z)

occasional literature

a work of literature that takes its origin from a particular historical event or a particular situation in the writer's life.


an exalted lyric poem that celebrates a dignified subject in a lofty style.


a brief narrative that explicitly embodies one or more themes.


an apparent contradiction that upon reflection is seen to express a genuine truth; the contradiction must be resolved or explained before we see its truth.


the verse form in which all Biblical poetry is written. The general definition that will cover the various types of parallelism is as follows: two or more lines that form a pattern based on repetition or balance of thought or grammar.

thought couplet

synonym for parallelism


a work of literature that parallels but inverts the usual meaning of a literary genre or a specific earlier work of literature.

passion stories

Gospel stories that narrate the events surrounding the trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


literature in which the setting, characters, and events are those of the shepherd's world.


a figure of speech in which human attributes are given to something nonhuman, such as animals, objects, or abstract qualities.


the sequence of events in a story usually based on a central conflict and having a beginning, middle, and end.

poetic justice

the feature of stories by which good characters are rewarded and evil characters are punished.

pronouncement stories

a brief Gospel story in which an event in Jesus' life is linked with one of his memorable sayings.


the leading character in a story, whether sympathetic or unsympathetic.


a concise, memorable expression of truth


a play on words, often using a word that sounds like another word but that has a different meaning.

quest stories

stories built around progress toward a goal.

rhetorical question

a figure of speech in which the writer asks a question whose answer is so obvious that it is left unstated; a question asked, not to elicit information, but for the sake of effect, usually an emotional effect.


a work of literature, or part of a work of literature, that presents ideal experience; a phase of the monomyth. Also, a narrative genre that includes a high incidence of the marvelous.


the exposure, through ridicule or rebuke, of human vice or folly

satiric norm

the standard by which the object of attack is criticized in a satire.


a proverb or aphorism


a figure of speech in which the writer compares two phenomena, using the explicit formula "like" or "as".

stairstep parallelism

a type of parallelism in which the last key word of a line becomes the first main word in the next line.


any detail in a work of literature that in addition to its literal meaning stands for something else.

synonymous parallelism

a type of parallelism in which two or more lines state the same idea in different words but in similar grammatical form; the second line repeats the content of all or part of the first line.

synthetic parallelism

a type of parallelism in which the second line completes the thought of the first line, but without repeating anything from the first line.

growing parallelism

synonym for synthetic parallelism


a generalization about life that a work of literature as a whole embodies or implies.


a narrative form built around an exceptional calamity stemming from the protagonist's wrong choice.

type scene

a situation or set of conventions that recurs throughout a work of literature or body of literature and that therefore produces a set of expectations in the readers when they encounter that situation in a literary text.

well-made plot

a plot that unfolds according to the following pattern: exposition (background information), inciting moment (or inciting force), rising action, turning point (the point from which, at least in retrospect, the reader can begin to see how the plot conflict will be resolved), further complication, climax, and denouement.

wisdom literature

a branch of Biblical literature in which the writer depends heavily o the proverb as the basic unit.

witness stories

Gospel stories in which either Jesus or another character testifies about Jesus or His works.

testimony stories

synonym for witness stories.

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