Shorter Reviews and Notices -- on Character Building: The Reader and the Rhetoric of Characterization in Luke-Acts (Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation) by John A. Darr

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ON CHARACTER BUILDING: THE READER AND THE RHETORIC OF CHARACTERIZATION IN LUKE-ACTS, by John A. Darr. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation. Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, 1992. 208 pp. $15.95 (paper). ISBN 0-664-25117-X

As one begins reading a gospel-story, one immediately encounters "characters," that is, dramatized figures who take on the aura of real persons. The rhetoric of characterization, then, focuses on how the reader, in the course of the reading process, is guided by the text both to "construct" characters and to "view" them in a particular light (e.g., as "good" or "evil"). As Darr ably points out, the rhetoric of characterization is one area in the literary-critical study of the Gospels to which scholars have thus far paid too little attention. In recognition of this, Darr presents in this book--which appears to be a condensed version of his doctoral dissertation--a method for analyzing character that he also applies to select figures in Luke-Acts.

The structure of Darr's book reflects its purpose. In Chapter 1, Darr develops a reader-response model of reading whereby he highlights the role that both the reader plays in the "building" of literary characters and that the scholarly critic plays in shaping the way that real readers construe characters. …