The English Bible as Literature

By Charles Allen Dinsmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
PROSE FICTION

There are not many means among us now of producing the beauty of holiness; but the Bible remains the chief of them, because it connects holiness with beauty more directly and more closely than any other work of man. . . . It says what is best worth saying in the best possible words.

CLUTTON-BROCK

IT has been said that fiction began in this wise. Once upon a time a man told a story about another man; later, some one spun a yarn with a woman for the principal character; finally, some genius devised a tale about a man and a woman, and the novel was launched on its amazing career. But a career means fashions, and fashions change. Few are the stories that interest more than one generation. Still fewer are the tales of one people that can be transplanted into another soil and climate. Stories are so interwoven with the thoughts and habits of their time and country that when they are separated from their background, they have no vitality. Those that do live often suffer a curious fate. 'Gulliver's Travels' flamed out of the fierce soul of Swift as withering satire; to-day boys and girls read it as a delightful narrative. As some one has happily remarked: the glare of a volcano now lights a child to bed. Often a story survives because of qualities, and for purposes, which were not at all in the author's mind: it contains something which is not peculiar to any time or place, but awakens feeling common to all humanity. When, therefore, a tale is told from generation to generation, and even passes be-

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The English Bible as Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • PART I: THE GENIUS AND DISCIPLINE OF THE HEBREW PEOPLE 1
  • Chapter IV the Mental and Spiritual Characteristics 39
  • PART II: LITERARY VALUES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS 109
  • Chapter X Biblical Poetry 175
  • Chapter XIV Prose Fiction 250
  • PART III: THE LITERARY QUALITIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 257
  • Chapter XIX Apocalyptical Writings 298
  • Appendix 311
  • Index 327
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