Item description for Reading Biblical Narratives by Yairah Amit...
Overview The Power of Stories The Story Researchers and the Reader's Responsibility Biblical Stories and Biblical Criticism Openings and Endings Plot, Structure, and Their Function Characterization by Minimal Means Whom to Believe? The Biblical Stories and "Time's Art" The Place, the Story, and the History Intrinsic and Acquired Significance Afterword: The Story in Its Significance 188 Pages
Publishers Description Based on a series of lectures given in Israel, Amit introduces the reader to the subtle ways of the biblical narrators. Covering issues of character, plot development, catchword association, narration, and dialog, she brings the biblical text to life, helping the reader enter the stories from new vantage points.
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Studio: Fortress Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.51" Weight: 0.65 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2001
Publisher Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN 080063280X ISBN13 9780800632809
Reviews - What do customers think about Reading Biblical Narratives?
A little gem Jul 16, 2009
It's just too rare to get a book on Old Testament interpretation that was actually written in Hebrew! Professor Yairah Amit of Tel Aviv University had her short work translated into English in 2001 and it is a truly enriching and engaging book. I felt like I had gained such useful perspectives and tools - although it is a mere 150 pages, it was like I'd read over 500 pages!
Amit deals topically with major aspects of biblical criticism such as plot structure, character development, chronology, geography etc. etc. She gives diagrams and overviews of major plot-types (such as the Three-Four Structure and the Calling Narrative) as well as saying how to identify each character type: Round, Flat and Type (she even investigates how Yahweh is characterised!) There's no generalised literary criticism here - everything she says deals directly with the unique character and flavour of biblical narratives (basically everything from Genesis to Ezra in the Protestant canonical order - although, between you and me, everything she says is incredibly useful and applicable to the Gospels and Acts).
She illustrates all of her points with detailed examples from places like Genesis, Judges, Samuel and Kings. She 'repeats' certain stories (such as 'Judah and Tamar' and 'Naboth's Vineyard') in multiple chapters, giving a captivating sense of how the same story can be analysed in different ways. What units make up the plot? What function does each character play? How is the flow of time managed or subverted? etc. etc. It makes you want to reread every biblical story there is and apply each of her tools to really understand them richly and deeply. Now that really can't be a bad thing, can it?
Amit self-consciously seeks to clear away the haze of Judeo-Christian theology - rather than looking for what we 'want' the text to say, we need to let the Bible speak by attending to what is there. She also corrects other errors such as ignoring geographic markers and movements, and thinking the only value of a story is how it affects its context. Amit is incredibly well-read and well-informed - Euro-Americans may routinely ignore Jewish scholarship, but Amit does not return in kind! Nonetheless, she speaks with her own voice and never gets bogged down in debates.
'Reading Biblical Narratives' stays 'on target' throughout, giving us literary-rhetorical criticism and that alone, but nonetheless that author does emphasise that we need to be willing to do textual, redactive, historical and theological work to get the 'whole picture', so to speak. You'll need to read other books to learn about those techniques. Personally, I'd love for this book to be "Part 2" of a big 700 page text-book that begins with Textual Criticism (Part 1) and then goes into historical and archaeological matters (Part 3). That would be a dream, but for what we have here, I can't fault it. It's a power-packed tour-de-force of literary analysis.
[Footnote: There is the odd statement here that a, shall we say, 'evangelical' Christian may find fault with. But it's really very few and far between - Amit deeply respects the text and this is actually one of the few academic works I would unhesitatingly recommend to any church member interested in the topic.]