A guide to new ways of reading biblical ("Old Testament") stories. Gunn and Fewell balance discussion of theory with practical illustration. Topics include plot, character, word-play and the ideological dimensions of interpretation. The stories include "Adam and Eve" and "Jonah".
After almost two centuries of historical criticism, biblical scholarship has recently taken major shifts in direction, most notably towards literary study of the Bible. Much germinal criticism has taken as its primary focus narrative texts of the Hebrew Bible ("The Old Testament"). This book belongs in this movement, and provides a guide to its interpretative possibilities. It tries to be both theoretical and practical, combining discussion of method and the business of reading in general with numerous illustrations through readings of particular texts. The opening chapter indicates how literary criticism is related to other dominant ways of reading the text over the last 2000 years, using as an example the story of Cain and Abel. In subsequent methodological chapters, Gunn and Fewell discuss characters, not excluding the narrator and God; plot, modifying recent theory to accommodate the peculiar complexity of biblical narratives; and the play of language through repetition, ambiguity, multivalance, metaphor and intertextuality. The concluding chapter, on readers and responsibility, explores the ideological dimension of narrative interpretation, with particular attention to "Genesis 1-3", a story which has generated much discussion about gender and social hierarchy. Does this text define or challenge the status quo (of either the ancient or the modern world)? The authors lay out some of the debate, and question what values are at work when we and others read and champion readings. Other extended readings include: the stories of Abraham and Sarah, and of Judah and Tamar in "Genesis", the book of Jonah and the account of Nebuchadnezzar and the the three Jews - from the "Book of Daniel".
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Part 1 Strategies for reading: narrative; biblical narrative; historical criticism, literary criticism and the meanings of the text; varieties of interpretation - "Genesis" through 2000 years; similarity and difference. Part 2 Tamar and Judah - "Genesis 38". Part 3 Characters and narrators: readers and people; the narrator; the characters; reconstucting characters; reconstructing YHWH. Part 4 Abraham and Sarah - "Genesis 11-22". Part 5 Designs on the plot: reading for the plot - desire for order; plots and points of view - "Judges 10-12"; fracturing the plot - the codas to "Judges" and "Samuel". Part 6 Jonah and God - the "Book of Jonah". Part 7 The lure of language: repetition and variation; multivalence, ambiguity and metaphor; reading for the metaphor - "Judges 1"; allusion and intertextuality; reading between words and stories - the house of David. Part 8 Nebuchadnezzar and the three Jews - "Daniel 3". Part 9 Readers and responsibility: literature and ideology; the Bible and ideology; "Genesis 2-3" - women, men and God.
Narrative in the Hebrew Bible by David Gunn
Oxford Bible S.
Used - Very Good
Oxford University Press
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