Reading Biblical Narratives: Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible

Article excerpt

Reading Biblical Narratives: Literary Criticism and The Hebrew Bible by Yairah Amit Fortress, Minneapolis, 2001. 188 pp. $20.00. ISBN 0-- 8006-3280-X.

AMIT OFFERS a wide-ranging discussion of the construction of biblical narrative "designed not only for academic readers but also for the nonspecialist" (p. xii). Following a brief introduction to literary criticism as an academic enterprise, she studies issues such as demarcating boundaries, narrative structures and sequencing, the development of character, and the use of narrative voice. She considers the relationship of story to history and how individual tales function in edited and canonical contexts.

For the scholar, this terrain should be familiar. As Amit indicates in her preface, persons wanting a more detailed consideration of academic questions should consult the works cited-which is particularly helpful with its combination of American, European, and Israeli scholarship.

Amit writes accessibly and introduces lay readers to the world of literary criticism. For example, in her examination of 2 Samuel 13 she looks at the complex interaction of elements such as how the story employs multiple scenes of varying length, the intentional invocation of familial terminology, the introduction of minor characters, and the move between various locales to "see how all the elements combine to serve the central objective, which is to depict Amnon as a thoroughly bad character and thus build up sympathy for Absalom" (p. …