The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship

By Frederick E. Greenspahn | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Literary Approaches to Biblical Literature
General Observations and a Case Study of Genesis 34

Adele Berlin

Literary approaches to the Bible go back to ancient times, although many people have the impression that they are a modern invention. One need only think of early Christian allegorical readings or rabbinic Midrash to realize that the use of literary strategies to interpret the Bible has a very long history. Ancient and medieval exegetes regularly developed their exegesis (interpretation) around what we would consider literary phenomena, like the repetition of words and phrases, the sequencing of narratives, plot symmetries, and the portrayal and development of characters. And I expect that literary approaches, in one form or another, will be with us as long as the Bible is read, for they are part and parcel of biblical interpretation.

New and ever-changing, though, is the mode of the literary inquiry. As assumptions change about the nature of a text and how its meaning may be discerned, so do the questions posed and the analytic tools used to answer them. The territory subsumed under “literary approaches to the Bible” is vast, even if confined to the contemporary scene, and it resists easy categorization. This chapter will therefore offer a selective view of this enterprise, highlighting what I see as its more significant recent trends. The discussion will be structured around three rubrics: (1) comparative literature, (2) the influence of literary theory and criticism, and (3) from interpretation to the history of interpretation. These rubrics should not be construed as a chronological progression, and they are not entirely separable; they simply provide a convenient way to divide up the territory.

Before we proceed, let me offer a broad definition of what literary approaches are and what they are trying to accomplish. The overarching purpose of a literary inquiry is a better understanding of the text—its

-45-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.