The Art of Biblical Narrative
- Publisher This text analyzes the Old Testament in terms of conventions, narration, dialogue, characterization, and literary technique.
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About "The Art of Biblical Narrative"
In what is both a radical approach to the Bible, and a fundamental return to its narrative prose, Robert Alter reads the Old Testament with new eyesthe eyes of a literary critic. Alter takes the old yet simple step of reading the Bible as a literary creation.
This text analyzes the Old Testament in terms of conventions, narration, dialogue, characterization, and literary technique.
Meet the Author
Robert Alter is Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous critical works, the most recent of which is the prize-winning book The Art of Biblical Narrative.
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I'd been meaning to read this book for years and am very glad I finally got the opportunity to do so! This book was a watershed when it was first published some 30 years ago, not so much because it approached the Bible was a 'great work of literature,' but because it attended to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament in a literary way. There is actually a big difference here. It is easy to wax lyrical about how the Bible contains great stories and powerful legends and culture-forming narrative, like Homer or Shakespeare. Well, 'The Art of Biblical Narrative' is nothing like that - not even close. What Altar does is he analyses the Hebrew of the Bible for its literary characteristics, such as repetition and characterisation, and shows was a brilliant book it is and how artfully it is constructed. But most importantly, he shows how easily confessional readings can miss the point, such as attributing David's repetition of "My son, my son" to different sources. I will never forget Altar's comparison of how both the donkey and Balak rebuke their masters three times - the whole story reverses those who 'see' into the 'blind' and those with 'power' into the 'powerless'. The challenge of this book is to realise how fun reading the Bible ought to be, and to let yourself accept that. What a wonderful challenge that is!