Dialogues of the Word: The Bible as Literature According to Bakhtin

By Walter L. Reed | Go to book overview

Afterword

"The Bible . . . according to Bakhtin." The reader of the preceding chapters has been invited to listen in on a variety of dialogues formally encoded in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures in their canonical state. The view has been taken, influenced by Bakhtin's model of a historical poetics, that this canonical state is itself a historical creation. But this study has also assumed that the meanings the canon generates are unavoidably theological, concerned with a communication that takes place between God and his people. The literary criticism developed here in the light of Bakhtin's ideas about the ubiquity of dialogue in verbal communication thus stands in a dialogical position itself, between what Bakhtin would call the centrifugal tendencies of historical analysis and the centripetal tendencies of theological interpretation. To read the Bible as history is to attend first and foremost to the multiple sources and layers of redaction that have been packed together in the canonical text, to separate the different elements and sediments accumulated and deposited over the centuries by the many different human authors and editors who have put the Bible together. To read the Bible as Scripture is to focus primarily on the unity of revelation that these different witnesses, in their

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