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Reading Biblical Narratives: Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible Paperback – July 20, 2001
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Based on a series of lectures given in Israel, Amit introduces the reader to the subtle ways of the biblical narrators. Covering issues of character, plot development, catchword association, narration and dialogue, she brings the biblical text to life, helping the reader enter the stories from new vantage points.
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About the Author
Yairah Amit is Professor of Biblical Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israel, She is the author of Hidden Polemics in Biblical Narrative (Brill, 2000), The Book of Judges: The Art of Editing (Brill, 1999), and History and Ideology in the Bible: An Introduction to Historiography in the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield Academic, 1997).
- Publisher : Fortress Press; Illustrated edition (July 20, 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 080063280X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0800632809
- Item Weight : 10.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.47 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #954 in Hebrew Bible
- #1,168 in Old Testament Criticism & Interpretation
- #2,132 in Old Testament Commentaries
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Amit deals topically with major aspects of biblical criticism such as plot structure, character development, chronology, geography etc. etc. She gives diagrams and overviews of major plot-types (such as the Three-Four Structure and the Calling Narrative) as well as saying how to identify each character type: Round, Flat and Type (she even investigates how Yahweh is characterised!) There's no generalised literary criticism here - everything she says deals directly with the unique character and flavour of biblical narratives (basically everything from Genesis to Ezra in the Protestant canonical order - although, between you and me, everything she says is incredibly useful and applicable to the Gospels and Acts).
She illustrates all of her points with detailed examples from places like Genesis, Judges, Samuel and Kings. She 'repeats' certain stories (such as 'Judah and Tamar' and 'Naboth's Vineyard') in multiple chapters, giving a captivating sense of how the same story can be analysed in different ways. What units make up the plot? What function does each character play? How is the flow of time managed or subverted? etc. etc. It makes you want to reread every biblical story there is and apply each of her tools to really understand them richly and deeply. Now that really can't be a bad thing, can it?
Amit self-consciously seeks to clear away the haze of Judeo-Christian theology - rather than looking for what we 'want' the text to say, we need to let the Bible speak by attending to what is there. She also corrects other errors such as ignoring geographic markers and movements, and thinking the only value of a story is how it affects its context. Amit is incredibly well-read and well-informed - Euro-Americans may routinely ignore Jewish scholarship, but Amit does not return in kind! Nonetheless, she speaks with her own voice and never gets bogged down in debates.
'Reading Biblical Narratives' stays 'on target' throughout, giving us literary-rhetorical criticism and that alone, but nonetheless that author does emphasise that we need to be willing to do textual, redactive, historical and theological work to get the 'whole picture', so to speak. You'll need to read other books to learn about those techniques. Personally, I'd love for this book to be "Part 2" of a big 700 page text-book that begins with Textual Criticism (Part 1) and then goes into historical and archaeological matters (Part 3). That would be a dream, but for what we have here, I can't fault it. It's a power-packed tour-de-force of literary analysis.
[Footnote: There is the odd statement here that a, shall we say, 'evangelical' Christian may find fault with. But it's really very few and far between - Amit deeply respects the text and this is actually one of the few academic works I would unhesitatingly recommend to any church member interested in the topic.]
Professor Amit's approach to literary criticism of biblical narrative is through biblical stories. Her premise is that biblical writers considered stories to be powerful means of teaching and persuasion. She illustrates this point over and again through examples and analysis of biblical stories. Whichever topic she's covering - whether it be defining boundaries, exploring characters, motives, time, place, etc. - she first introduces a set of principles, then illustrates them by presenting examples of biblical stories, and finally elaborates upon them.
This approach to introducing biblical narrative is very scholarly, methodical and amazingly covers a lot of ground. Professor Amit makes a skillful use of textual criticism, sifting out later textual additions but also identifying editor's or redactor's changes through literary analysis. This combination of lower criticism (textual criticism) and higher criticism (literary criticism) is rather intriguing and yields some very interesting results. Yet the book is accessible to anyone and the casual reader should not be dissuaded from reading it. The analysis presented in this book is quite readable and enjoyable. Whether or not you intend to pursue the study of biblical narrative any further, this book will certainly enrich you and add light to your understanding of biblical stories. I highly recommend this book.
She gives colorful view for biblical narratives.
Top reviews from other countries
Clear and succinct description of the various components of literary criticism with ample Biblical examples.