Post Reply Biblical Genres
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Not all of the Bible is the same. Here are the genres that scholars have seperated the books of the Bible into.

Genres
A. Historical Narrative - Genesis, Exodus (1st half), Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jonah.
B. Law - Exodus (2nd half), Leviticus, Deuteronomy
C. Wisdom - Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
D. Poetry - Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations
E. Prophecy - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
F. Apocolyptic - Daniel (also considered Historical Narrative), Revelation
G. Gospel - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and possibly Acts
H. Epistle (Letter) - Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude

I'll also be posting some "guidelines" for interpreting Biblical Poetry, Prophetic Literature, and The Parables. They're not my own guidelines so don't rag on me about them. They're guidelines created by a professor at my college (he has a few doctorates so he knows what he's talking about). They'll be to help you interpret what the Bible is telling you.

Guidelines

Biblical Poetry
Introduction
Poetry is a dominant literary for in the Old Testament but it is rare in the New Testament. With isolated exceptions, such as the testament of Jacob (Genesis 49:2-27), the songs of Moses (Exodus 15:1-18; Deuteronomy 32:1-43; 33:2-29}, the song of Deborah (Judges 5:2-31), the lament of David (2 Samuel 1:19-27), and Israel's confession of their sin (Nehemiah 9:5-38), the Law and the historical literature are written narrative style. In contrast, the Psalms and Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes) are mainly poetry and the Prophets are a combination of Hebrew narrative and poetry. In the New Testament, poetry is generally restricted to hymns and hymn fragments: the Song of Mary, Zacharias and Simeon in Luke's infancy narrative (Luke 1:46-55; 68-79; 2:29-32; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Timothy 3:16), Christological hymns in the Pauline letters and praise fragments in Revelation (15:3-4).
1. Hebrew Parallelism
Hebrew Poetry differs from English poetry. In English poetry, the basic characteristics are rhyme and meter; in Hebrew poetry, however, the basic characteristics are parallelism and rhythm. in common with Semitic parallelism in general, Hebrew parallelism is essentially a rhythm of meaning; that is, the repetition of meaning in parallel form. There are six primary classes of Hebrew parallelism:
a) Synonymous-- the second line repeats the meaning of the first line. For example, he will bring forth your righteousness as light and your judgment as the noon day. In Hebrew poetry, there is no difference between righteousness and judgement.
b) Antithetic-- the second line contrasts the first line. For example, For evil doers will be cut off but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
c) Synthetic-- the second line completes the first line. For example, But as for me, I have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.
d) Climactic-- the repetition of lines or numerical sequences that build up to a climax. For example, For behold your enemies, O Lord. For behold your enemies will perish. All who do iniquity will be scattered.
e) Inverted/Chiastic-- synonymous parallelism using similes or metaphors throughout. For example, God is our Rock, he is our Fortress, He is a great and mighty tower.
2. Picturesque Language
Hebrew poetry is not only characterized by parallelism but it is also characterized by the use of picturesque language--often as metaphor or simile. In the use of metaphors and similes the image which known to the audience elucidates the reality which is either less well known or else is unknown to the audience. A simile is a comparison of image and reality using "like" or "as"; a metaphor is a comparison without using "like" or "as". Thus, in contrast to narrative which uses indicative language, poetry uses picturesque language--language that evokes familiar images and experiences in the audience.
In order to be effective, the images of biblical poetry must be appropriate for the life setting of its first audience. Much picturesque language in the poetic literature is drawn from creation. We may call this picturesque language, "metaphors of creation." The following references describe metaphors of aspects of the created order:
a) Psalm 1:3
b) Psalm 80:14-15
c) Psalm 17:12
d) Psalm 124:3
e) Psalm 124:4-5
f) Psalm 74:13-15
In addition to being drawn from creation, many poetic images are drawn from occupations in Israelite society. These poetic images may be termed "metaphors of vocation."
a) Psalm 23:1
b) Psalm 80:1b
c) Psalm 1:4
d) Psalm 35:7
e) Psalm 33:20
Picturesque language is also common when describing more mundane subjects:
a) Proverbs 26:1-2
c) Proverbs 26:11
Similarly, as the Song of Solomon illustrated, human love, affection and admiration are most aptly expressed in metaphor and simile. Thus, the lover describes his beloved:
a) Song of Solomon 4:1-2
Because it is drawn from creation or nature and from the vocational life of Israel, the meaning of this picturesque language is largely self-evident. However, because the life-setting of many contemporary interpreters is shaped in an urban and technological environment, rather than by the rural and agricultural environment of ancient Israelite society, the contemporary interpreter may have to investigate carefully the meaning of many metaphors and similes.
3. Literary Genre
In addition to recognizing both the type of Hebrew parallel and the poetic images, the interpreter must also recognize the wide variety of literary genre or forms to be found in biblical poetry. These include the following: the hymn, praise, lament, didactic poem, discrete sayings and the love song. These major forms often have a variety of sub-categories as well.
3.1 The Hymn is a Psalm of Descriptive praise
The hymn simply praises God for who he is. Consequently, the hymn is not prompted by any specific event. The hymn has the following threefold structure:
Psalm 113
Call to Praise - 113:1-3
Twofold Reason
- The Lord's Greatness - 113:4-5
- The Lord's Goodness - 113:6-9a
Praise - 113:9b
The hymn opens with an invocation or call to praise. This is followed by a twofold reason for praise. The first reason for praise is the greatness of the Lord, a greatness manifest in his sovereignty over creation and history. The second reason for praise is the goodness of the Lord, a goodness that expresses itself in the complementary roles of deliverance/salvation and preservation. The hymn concludes with an exclamation of praise: Hallelujah.
3.2 The Psalm of Praise is a Psalm of Narrative Praise
Thus, it differs from the hymn, in the first place, for praising God for what he has done, rather than simply who he is. In the second place, it differs from the hymn in that it is prompted by a specific act of divine intervention on behalf of the worshippers. Depending on whether God has intervened on behalf of the nation or the individual, these psalms of praise may be classified as community praise or individual praise.
In its simplest form the psalm of community praise consists of a summons to praise, a recital of God's intervention (for example, Exodus 15:21). Most psalms of community praise, however, are expanded, often as songs of victory (Numbers 21:14-15; Judges 5); and songs of epiphany (Psalm 18:7-15; 66:6-7; 77:16-19; 97:2-5; 114; Deuteronomy 33; Isaiah 30:27-33; 59:15-20; Micah 1:3-4; Nahum 1:3-6; Habakkuk 3:3-15). Through the psalm of community praise is rare in the Psalter (124, 129), community praise themes are found in many psalms (66:8-12; 85:1-3; 126:2-3; Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 25:1-5; 26:13-19; Luke 1:67-75). The psalm of community praise has a fourfold structure:
Psalm 124
Introduction - 124:1-5
Call to Praise - 124:6a
Account of God's Actions - 124:6b-7
Expression of Confidence - 124:8
It begins with a complex introduction that may include summons, an initial summary and the crisis in retrospect. The call to praise follows this introduction. The main part of the psalm consists of a narrative account of God's intervention and deliverance. The psalm concludes with an expression of confidence.
The Psalm of Individual Praise primarily differs from the psalm of community praise in that it celebrates God's intervention on behalf of the individual rather than the nation. The dangers that threaten an individual are more varied than those that threaten a nation. The psalm of individual praise also has a fourfold structure.
Psalm 30
Introduction - 30:1-3
Call to Praise - 30:4-5
Narrative Account - 30:6-12a
Praise/Vow to Praise - 30:12b
Therefore, though similar in structure to the psalm of community praise, the individual's praise recites a predicament and celebrates a divine intervention more varied than the community praise. In contrast to both the hymn and community praise, the psalm of individual's praise is accompanied by the liturgical action of sacrifice whether or not this is mentioned in the psalm (66:14-15). There are 16 psalms of individual praise in the Old Testament.
3.3 The Lament
The Lament is the direct opposite to the psalm of praise. Psalms of lament bemoan present trouble and petition God for his intervention; psalms of praise, in contrast, celebrate divine intervention and deliverance from past troubles. Thus, whereas the liturgical action of praise is the sacrificial banquet, the liturgical action of lament is fasting (Jeremiah 36:6-9; Joel 1:13-14; 2:6). The Lament was the response to a variety of circumstances including the death of the King (2 Samuel 1:12-27; 2 Chronicles 35:25; Ezekiel 19:1-14), the imposition of covenant curses such as drought (Jeremiah 14:1-9), locust plague (Joel 1-2), and destruction and exile (Lamentations 1:5). Just as psalms of praise may be either community or individual, to the psalms of lament are either community of individual.
It is clear from both the historical literature and the prophets that the lamentation was a commonplace reaction to calamity. Nevertheless, the community lament is rare in the Psalter (44; 60; 74; 79; 80; 83; 89). Though each community lament is unique, they have the following structure in whole or in part:
Psalm 80
Invocation - 80:1-3
Lament - 80:4-7; 12-13
Review of God's Past Help - 80:8-11
Petition 80:14-17
Praise/Vow to Praise 80:18
- Refrain - 80:3,7,19
The community lament begins with an invocation--a direct, personal adress to God. The lament proper follows the invocation. This lament may be against God (i.e., "you"); it may be a personal lament (I/we), or it may be about enemies (they). A review of God's past help that contrasts with God's appearent present disinterest renders the lament more poignant. The lament then petitions God to intervene in the present as he has in the past. The lament concludes with praise or the vow to praise that is conditional upon God's actual intervention.
In contrast to the relative scarcity of community laments in the Psalter, the individual's lament is the most common type of psalm. There are about 50 individual laments (approximately 1/3 of the collection) in the Psalter. The individual's lament is also found in Lamentations (chapter 3), in Jeremiah (12; 15; 17-18; 20) and in Job (3). Generally speaking, the structure of the individual's lament conforms to the structure of the community lament. The primary difference is that in the individual's lament an expression of confidence replaces the review of God's past help.
Moreover, just as psalms of individual praise manifest greater variety than psalms of community praise, the fifty psalms of individual laments manifest greater variety that psalms of community lament. This variety includes psalms of repentance, protestations of innocence and psalms of trust.
Psalm 13
Invocation - 13:1a
Lament - 13:1b-2
Expression of Confidence - none recorded in Psalm 13
Petition - 13:3-4
Praise/Vow to Praise - 13:5-6
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cool!~ ^_^ i would love to learn this stuff thanks Riverstyx!~ my faves are the poetry, epistle, and wisdom...ahhh.... not that I don't like the rest of the Bible
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There are also sections of old testament that have apocolyptic literature in it. Mainly discussing the "great and terrible day of the lord." Same with a number of references several new testament books. Matthew for sure has several verses on the matter. "Nation shall rise against nation, people against people...brother shall betray brother, etc." Apocolypic literature is my favorite topic to study. What God will do in the days to come.

I also enjoy the historical narratives and the Gospels.
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Posted 4/9/08

clearwateralchemist wrote:

There are also sections of old testament that have apocolyptic literature in it. Mainly discussing the "great and terrible day of the lord." Same with a number of references several new testament books. Matthew for sure has several verses on the matter. "Nation shall rise against nation, people against people...brother shall betray brother, etc." Apocolypic literature is my favorite topic to study. What God will do in the days to come.

I also enjoy the historical narratives and the Gospels.


true, but that can also fall under Prophetic Literature

I like Poetry and Historical Narrative
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Posted 4/9/08
Prophecy , poetry and gospel are my favorites!! ^_________^
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Haha, I once had a study bible that divided the bible up into categories or at least lumped them together into a communitive genre. I myself find the books that fascinate me the most is the Epistles, Apocalyptic, Prophecy, Wisdom, Law, and the Historical Narratives. These I study far more than the others, that is to say they are not more important but rather, a knack of my interests.


RivrStyx wrote:

Not all of the Bible is the same. Here are the genres that scholars have seperated the books of the Bible into.

Genres
A. Historical Narrative - Genesis, Exodus (1st half), Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jonah.
B. Law - Exodus (2nd half), Leviticus, Deuteronomy
C. Wisdom - Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
D. Poetry - Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations
E. Prophecy - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
F. Apocolyptic - Daniel (also considered Historical Narrative), Revelation
G. Gospel - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and possibly Acts
H. Epistle (Letter) - Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude

I'll also be posting some "guidelines" for interpreting Biblical Poetry, Prophetic Literature, and The Parables. They're not my own guidelines so don't rag on me about them. They're guidelines created by a professor at my college (he has a few doctorates so he knows what he's talking about). They'll be to help you interpret what the Bible is telling you.

Guidelines

Biblical Poetry
Introduction
Poetry is a dominant literary for in the Old Testament but it is rare in the New Testament. With isolated exceptions, such as the testament of Jacob (Genesis 49:2-27), the songs of Moses (Exodus 15:1-18; Deuteronomy 32:1-43; 33:2-29}, the song of Deborah (Judges 5:2-31), the lament of David (2 Samuel 1:19-27), and Israel's confession of their sin (Nehemiah 9:5-38), the Law and the historical literature are written narrative style. In contrast, the Psalms and Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes) are mainly poetry and the Prophets are a combination of Hebrew narrative and poetry. In the New Testament, poetry is generally restricted to hymns and hymn fragments: the Song of Mary, Zacharias and Simeon in Luke's infancy narrative (Luke 1:46-55; 68-79; 2:29-32; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Timothy 3:16), Christological hymns in the Pauline letters and praise fragments in Revelation (15:3-4).
1. Hebrew Parallelism
Hebrew Poetry differs from English poetry. In English poetry, the basic characteristics are rhyme and meter; in Hebrew poetry, however, the basic characteristics are parallelism and rhythm. in common with Semitic parallelism in general, Hebrew parallelism is essentially a rhythm of meaning; that is, the repetition of meaning in parallel form. There are six primary classes of Hebrew parallelism:
a) Synonymous-- the second line repeats the meaning of the first line. For example, he will bring forth your righteousness as light and your judgment as the noon day. In Hebrew poetry, there is no difference between righteousness and judgement.
b) Antithetic-- the second line contrasts the first line. For example, For evil doers will be cut off but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
c) Synthetic-- the second line completes the first line. For example, But as for me, I have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.
d) Climactic-- the repetition of lines or numerical sequences that build up to a climax. For example, For behold your enemies, O Lord. For behold your enemies will perish. All who do iniquity will be scattered.
e) Inverted/Chiastic-- synonymous parallelism using similes or metaphors throughout. For example, God is our Rock, he is our Fortress, He is a great and mighty tower.
2. Picturesque Language
Hebrew poetry is not only characterized by parallelism but it is also characterized by the use of picturesque language--often as metaphor or simile. In the use of metaphors and similes the image which known to the audience elucidates the reality which is either less well known or else is unknown to the audience. A simile is a comparison of image and reality using "like" or "as"; a metaphor is a comparison without using "like" or "as". Thus, in contrast to narrative which uses indicative language, poetry uses picturesque language--language that evokes familiar images and experiences in the audience.
In order to be effective, the images of biblical poetry must be appropriate for the life setting of its first audience. Much picturesque language in the poetic literature is drawn from creation. We may call this picturesque language, "metaphors of creation." The following references describe metaphors of aspects of the created order:
a) Psalm 1:3
b) Psalm 80:14-15
c) Psalm 17:12
d) Psalm 124:3
e) Psalm 124:4-5
f) Psalm 74:13-15
In addition to being drawn from creation, many poetic images are drawn from occupations in Israelite society. These poetic images may be termed "metaphors of vocation."
a) Psalm 23:1
b) Psalm 80:1b
c) Psalm 1:4
d) Psalm 35:7
e) Psalm 33:20
Picturesque language is also common when describing more mundane subjects:
a) Proverbs 26:1-2
c) Proverbs 26:11
Similarly, as the Song of Solomon illustrated, human love, affection and admiration are most aptly expressed in metaphor and simile. Thus, the lover describes his beloved:
a) Song of Solomon 4:1-2
Because it is drawn from creation or nature and from the vocational life of Israel, the meaning of this picturesque language is largely self-evident. However, because the life-setting of many contemporary interpreters is shaped in an urban and technological environment, rather than by the rural and agricultural environment of ancient Israelite society, the contemporary interpreter may have to investigate carefully the meaning of many metaphors and similes.
3. Literary Genre
In addition to recognizing both the type of Hebrew parallel and the poetic images, the interpreter must also recognize the wide variety of literary genre or forms to be found in biblical poetry. These include the following: the hymn, praise, lament, didactic poem, discrete sayings and the love song. These major forms often have a variety of sub-categories as well.
3.1 The Hymn is a Psalm of Descriptive praise
The hymn simply praises God for who he is. Consequently, the hymn is not prompted by any specific event. The hymn has the following threefold structure:
Psalm 113
Call to Praise - 113:1-3
Twofold Reason
- The Lord's Greatness - 113:4-5
- The Lord's Goodness - 113:6-9a
Praise - 113:9b
The hymn opens with an invocation or call to praise. This is followed by a twofold reason for praise. The first reason for praise is the greatness of the Lord, a greatness manifest in his sovereignty over creation and history. The second reason for praise is the goodness of the Lord, a goodness that expresses itself in the complementary roles of deliverance/salvation and preservation. The hymn concludes with an exclamation of praise: Hallelujah.
3.2 The Psalm of Praise is a Psalm of Narrative Praise
Thus, it differs from the hymn, in the first place, for praising God for what he has done, rather than simply who he is. In the second place, it differs from the hymn in that it is prompted by a specific act of divine intervention on behalf of the worshippers. Depending on whether God has intervened on behalf of the nation or the individual, these psalms of praise may be classified as community praise or individual praise.
In its simplest form the psalm of community praise consists of a summons to praise, a recital of God's intervention (for example, Exodus 15:21). Most psalms of community praise, however, are expanded, often as songs of victory (Numbers 21:14-15; Judges 5); and songs of epiphany (Psalm 18:7-15; 66:6-7; 77:16-19; 97:2-5; 114; Deuteronomy 33; Isaiah 30:27-33; 59:15-20; Micah 1:3-4; Nahum 1:3-6; Habakkuk 3:3-15). Through the psalm of community praise is rare in the Psalter (124, 129), community praise themes are found in many psalms (66:8-12; 85:1-3; 126:2-3; Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 25:1-5; 26:13-19; Luke 1:67-75). The psalm of community praise has a fourfold structure:
Psalm 124
Introduction - 124:1-5
Call to Praise - 124:6a
Account of God's Actions - 124:6b-7
Expression of Confidence - 124:8
It begins with a complex introduction that may include summons, an initial summary and the crisis in retrospect. The call to praise follows this introduction. The main part of the psalm consists of a narrative account of God's intervention and deliverance. The psalm concludes with an expression of confidence.
The Psalm of Individual Praise primarily differs from the psalm of community praise in that it celebrates God's intervention on behalf of the individual rather than the nation. The dangers that threaten an individual are more varied than those that threaten a nation. The psalm of individual praise also has a fourfold structure.
Psalm 30
Introduction - 30:1-3
Call to Praise - 30:4-5
Narrative Account - 30:6-12a
Praise/Vow to Praise - 30:12b
Therefore, though similar in structure to the psalm of community praise, the individual's praise recites a predicament and celebrates a divine intervention more varied than the community praise. In contrast to both the hymn and community praise, the psalm of individual's praise is accompanied by the liturgical action of sacrifice whether or not this is mentioned in the psalm (66:14-15). There are 16 psalms of individual praise in the Old Testament.
3.3 The Lament
The Lament is the direct opposite to the psalm of praise. Psalms of lament bemoan present trouble and petition God for his intervention; psalms of praise, in contrast, celebrate divine intervention and deliverance from past troubles. Thus, whereas the liturgical action of praise is the sacrificial banquet, the liturgical action of lament is fasting (Jeremiah 36:6-9; Joel 1:13-14; 2:6). The Lament was the response to a variety of circumstances including the death of the King (2 Samuel 1:12-27; 2 Chronicles 35:25; Ezekiel 19:1-14), the imposition of covenant curses such as drought (Jeremiah 14:1-9), locust plague (Joel 1-2), and destruction and exile (Lamentations 1:5). Just as psalms of praise may be either community or individual, to the psalms of lament are either community of individual.
It is clear from both the historical literature and the prophets that the lamentation was a commonplace reaction to calamity. Nevertheless, the community lament is rare in the Psalter (44; 60; 74; 79; 80; 83; 89). Though each community lament is unique, they have the following structure in whole or in part:
Psalm 80
Invocation - 80:1-3
Lament - 80:4-7; 12-13
Review of God's Past Help - 80:8-11
Petition 80:14-17
Praise/Vow to Praise 80:18
- Refrain - 80:3,7,19
The community lament begins with an invocation--a direct, personal adress to God. The lament proper follows the invocation. This lament may be against God (i.e., "you"); it may be a personal lament (I/we), or it may be about enemies (they). A review of God's past help that contrasts with God's appearent present disinterest renders the lament more poignant. The lament then petitions God to intervene in the present as he has in the past. The lament concludes with praise or the vow to praise that is conditional upon God's actual intervention.
In contrast to the relative scarcity of community laments in the Psalter, the individual's lament is the most common type of psalm. There are about 50 individual laments (approximately 1/3 of the collection) in the Psalter. The individual's lament is also found in Lamentations (chapter 3), in Jeremiah (12; 15; 17-18; 20) and in Job (3). Generally speaking, the structure of the individual's lament conforms to the structure of the community lament. The primary difference is that in the individual's lament an expression of confidence replaces the review of God's past help.
Moreover, just as psalms of individual praise manifest greater variety than psalms of community praise, the fifty psalms of individual laments manifest greater variety that psalms of community lament. This variety includes psalms of repentance, protestations of innocence and psalms of trust.
Psalm 13
Invocation - 13:1a
Lament - 13:1b-2
Expression of Confidence - none recorded in Psalm 13
Petition - 13:3-4
Praise/Vow to Praise - 13:5-6


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Oh man I feel like a geek I am the only one that was interested in Law lol also apocalyptic, no one is fascinated by the horseman of apocalypse? lol, well I guess I am just a nerd.
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Cool...
where did you get these?
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RivrStyx you go to seminary school? I'm assuming you are and that you studied this. Either that, or you copied and paste from another website xD

Favorite is epistles...nothing like letters to help build the church up
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