The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading

The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading

The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading

The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading

Synopsis

"This... is a brilliant work." -- Choice "[Sternberg] has written a very important book, both for his comprehensiveness and for the clearly-avowed faith stance from which he understands and interprets the strategies of the biblical narratives.... a superb overview... " -- Theological Studies..". rated very highly indeed. It is a book to read and then reread." -- Modern Language Review..". Sternberg has accomplished an enormous task, enriching our understanding of the theoretical basis of biblical narrative and giving us insight into a remarkable number of particular texts." -- Journal of the American Academy of Religion..". an important book for those who seek to take the Bible seriously as a literary work because it shows, more clearly and emphatically than any book I know, that the Bible is a serious literary work -- a text manifesting a highly sophisticated and successful narrative poetics." -- Adele Berlin, Prooftexts

Excerpt

Some of the book’s theses and analyses have appeared in a long series of articles on the subject, and I am grateful for permission to use the material: “The King Through Ironic Eyes: the Narrator’s Devices in the Story of David and Bathsheba and Two Excursuses on the Theory of the Narrative Text,” Hasifrut 1 (1968) 263–92; “Caution, a Literary Text! Problems in the Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative,” Hasifrut 2 (1970) 608–63; “Delicate Balance in the Story of the Rape of Dinah: Biblical Narrative and the Rhetoric of Narrative,” Hasifrut 4 (1973) 193–231; “The Structure of Repetition in Biblical Narrative: Strategies of Informational Redundancy,” Hasifrut 25 (1977) 109–50; “Between the Truth and the Whole Truth in Biblical Narrative: the Rendering of Inner Life by Telescoped Inside View and Interior Monologue” Hasifrut 29 (1979) 110–46; “Patterns of Similarity: Part and Whole in Biblical Composition,” presented to the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies (1981); “Language, World, and Perspective in Biblical Art: Free Indirect Discourse and Modes of Covert Penetration,” Hasifrut 32 (1983) 88–131; “The Bible’s Art of Persuasion: Ideology, Rhetoric, and Poetics in Saul’s Fall,” Hebrew Union College Annual (1983) 45–82. the two earliest articles were written in collaboration with Menakhem Perry. As the notes will indicate, I have also freely transplanted ideas and examples from my various theoretical studies; or perhaps I should say retrieved, since the theories themselves often trace back to my exploration of biblical practice.

This being a rather long book, it is only fair to point out that the argument covers both less and more ground than may appear. Less, because it does not incorporate all the work I have done on the Bible since the sixties, not even all the published work. the emphasis here falls not just on narrative as distinct from other genres but on those narrative principles crucial to the marriage of ideology to reading that governs biblical poetics. Involving problems underrated or neglected in literary theory itself, the working and rules of this ideological art need systematic reconstruction. To keep the argument in focus, therefore, I reserve for separate treatment issues like the Bible’s generic variety, its composition of units into books, or its modes of rendering speech and thought, discussed in some of the papers listed above.

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