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The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi Paperback – August 1, 2004
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If you are at all interested in biblical structure of the Old Testament and its importance in relation to correct interpretation, you will never regret purchasing this indispensable volume. As the author himself states: "Certainly it is time for surface-structural analysis to take its place among the important disciplines within biblical studies. Old Testament authors communicated their message through the arrangement of their compositions as well as through verbal content. Modern commentators devote much effort to clarifying the verbal content of passages of scripture but give relatively little attention to the arrangement of this content. If we are to understand more fully the books of the Hebrew Bible, we must pay greater attention to their structures and to what those structures reveal about their meaning. The purpose of the present work is to encourage renewed interest in this promising and important aspect of interpretation" (pp. 327-328).
This work is useful in two ways:
(1) hermeneutically (interpretationally), it shows us where the climax of the section is located and how the symmetrical pattern before and after it modifies that climax;
(2) instructionally (for preaching or teaching) it directs us to a concentration point. This is useful in many ways, but it is particularly helpful when we are addressing highlights from the various books of the Old Testament.
This is not the type of book one would read through, but it is a reference book to pull off the shelf when a person is preparing to study a particular book of the Old Testament. I would include this volume under the label of "introductory material." Although it is subtitled as a "commentary" it is not a verse by verse work, but rather a commentary on the main structure (and outline) of the books involved. The book is slightly more than 300 pages long.
The average laymen would probably not find this book very useful, but folks interested and active in Bible teaching (particuarly at an adult level) would probably enjoy this work.
The Literary Structure of the Old Testament gives a great overview of the use of literary patterns found to be common in the OT. It also covers each book of the OT in some detail.
Why should we care about the literary patterns in the OT? The ancient Hebrew author used them to communicate meaning. And if you want to know what an OT author was saying then you need to understand these patterns and how he would have used them. David Dorsey helps us see this in this wonderful book.
If you are a serious student of the Hebrew text.. then I encourage to get this book. You will be enlightened by it.
I personally keep 5-10 copies of this book to give to those who I know would appreciate it.
Many thanks to Dr. Dorsey for his time and effort.
Dorsey begins with the premise that while most OT books may appear to us to be hopelessly disorganized, their authors indeed followed structural and organizational pattern which are however very different from our own. Hence, unless we are familiar with these structural patterns we simply fail to detect them. This implies that proper deciphering of the structure of an OT books leads to proper understanding of its meaning. The other very important premise is that much of the OT material was intended to be heard or listened to, rather than to be read. Thus authors of these text employed oral markers rather than written or textual typesetting as we know it in our printed materials.
The introductory unit reviews basic principles of structural analysis and provides some elementary tools for the reader to use in his or her own study. Dorsey first provides basic overview of the fields with its historical roots and evolution of structural analysis up to our day. The next four chapters deal with the following topics; definition of literary units, arrangement of units, understanding the structure and meaning and finally discussing value of structural analysis. These chapters are detailed enough for one to be able to pick up some new tools and skills, yet not too esoteric for a casual reader. Further, Dorsey provides enough references for the interested reader to pursue any given topic in more detail.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is proving to be and invaluable tool for study and sermon preparation of OT narrative.Published 6 months ago by JTG
Excellent resource for deeper study. Easy flow and nice addition to my useable shelf.Published 13 months ago by SCS
Outstanding. A wonderful book that helped me to much better understand the Hebrew Scriptures. Essential reading for anyone who teaches the Bible regularly.Published 18 months ago by S.D. Smith
OUtstanding. Very helpful to understand each book. The divine authorship comes through!Published 21 months ago by Samuel L. Abbate
Gives good outlines and good insight. But occasinally I have to modify those outlines for my own usePublished 23 months ago by Veli Voipio
To me, this is a groundbreaking work. Have you ever wondered why certain units seem to be out of chronological order? Or how the Old Testament fits together as a cohesive whole? Read morePublished on February 15, 2014 by Drew Toucher