general and parts of the Bible in particular is striking, even though there is more to be said. The specifically religious or gracious character of the Bible does not destroy its natural impact as great literature. The Bible, as interpreted by a particular religious community, embodies a quite particular claim about human life which differs in certain respects from the vision of the Greek tragedians. The religious community calls for a different kind of response, too. But both are speaking of the human condition, and the manner in which they do so is sufficiently close to make comparisons meaningful.
'Pleasure' is not the most obvious category for the impact of religious literature. Nevertheless, the late Rabbi Samuel Sandmel wrote a book on The Enjoyment of Scripture ( 1970), and many religious readers of the Bible would accept the phrase. But distinctions have to be made. The pleasure to be derived from reading such narratives as the stories of Joseph, or David, or Jonah, or Ruth, is quite different from most Christians' experience when reading the New Testament. The limitations of the category 'literature' become clear when believers reflect on how they read their scripture. The category is not inaccurate, simply inadequate. Its inadequacy is more obvious in respect of some parts of the Bible than others, and it varies between believers. The matter turns on how closely their reading of each part of the Bible is related to their apprehension of God.
Some of the most important resources on this topic are found in the volumes of the Semeia series (published variously in Philadelphia, Chico, and Decatur, beginning in 1974). In addition to the works discussed in the course of the chapter the following titles are indicative of a trend. More elementary books are asterisked.
CULLER, J., Structuralist Poetics ( Ithaca and London, 1975).
-- The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction ( Ithaca and London, 1981).