After almost two centuries of historical criticism, biblical scholarship has recently taken major shifts in direction, most notably towards literary study of the Bible. Much germinal criticism has taken as its primary focus narrative texts of the Hebrew Bible (the `Old Testament'). This book belongs in this movement and provides a lucid guide to its interpretative possibilities. It tries to be both theoretical and practical, combining discussion of method and the
business of reading in general with numerous illustrations through readings of particular texts. The opening chapter indicates how literary criticism is related to other dominant
ways of reading the text over the last two thousand years, using as an example the story of Cain and Abel. In subsequent methodological chapters, the authors discuss characters, not excluding the narrator and God; plot, modifying recent theory to accommodate the peculiar complexity of biblical narratives; and the play of language through repetition, ambiguity, multivalence, metaphor and intertextuality. The concluding chapter, on readers and responsibility, explores the ideological dimension of
narrative interpretation, with particular attention to Genesis 1-3, a story which has generated much discussion about gender and social hierarchy. Does this text define or challenge the statusquo (of
either the ancient or the modern world)? The authors lay out some of the debate and question what values are at work when we and others read and champion readings. Other extended readings include: the stories of Abraham and Sarah, and of Tamar and Judah in Genesis, the book of Jonah, and the account of Nebuchadnezzar and the three Jews thrown into the fiery furnace, fromthe book of Daniel. An extensive bibliography completes the book, arranged by subject and biblical
`..this work is a welcome addition to other basic books on the art of biblical narrative.'
`a marvellously welcoming and encouraging introduction, and even if in the end we remain unconvinced we shall have been given an insight into what the literary critics are attempting ... This is a book to be read and savoured, and then return to the biblical narratives with eyes that have been opened to new vistas of meaning ... The book has a massive bibliography of forty-seven pages, containing the works cited in the text, English language studies upon
which the literary approach is built, and a large number of other books in the general area. This will be of immense value to students and teachers'
'They write on a field which has seen an explosion of interest in the past decade or so, and they navigate (and chart) this territory adroitly. This volume would provide a welcome stimulus for the preacher's reflection on the Bible, or for an adult Bible study group.'
Regent's Reviews, Autumn 1993
'there are some penetrating flashes of insight'
NBBible Study Monthly, November/December 1993
'Gunn and Fewell offer a useful introduction to the new ways in which biblical narratives might now be read. The relationship between historicalcriticism and literary studies has still to be more fully explored. Gunn and Fewell have made an important contribution towards developing this agenda in biblical studies. And their forty or so pages of bibliography, so clearly classified, offer an invaluable resource for both beginners and specialists who meed to
take up further this particular challenge.'
Sue Gillingham, Woprcester College, Theology, Sept/Oct, 1994
'This would be an excellent guide for anyone making their first foray into biblical literary criticism.'
Bernard Robinson, Old Testament Chronicle
'interesting and stimulating ... Anyone interested in modern literary criticism should read this book, and see what can be done in interpreting Old Testament stories this way.'
'a useful introduction to the new ways in which biblical narratives might now be read ... The relationship between historical criticism and literary studies has still to be more fully explored. Gunn and Fewell have made an important contribution towards developing this agenda in biblical studies. And their forty or so pages of bibliography, so clearly classified, offer an invaluable resource for both beginners and specialists who need to take up further
this particular challenge.'
Sue Gillingham, Worcester College, Oxford, Theology
`This book is a delightful read with clear discussions and examples of the various aspects of reading narratives in the Hebrew Bible. As a textbook for undergraduates in a university setting, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible could be used as an important starting book for studying various literary features of narrative. A special quality of this book is its extensive bibliography, arranged by subject and biblical text, which is valuable for securing sources
for further study.'
Christine Kelm, McGill University, ARC, Volume 23, 1995
`lucid and fully bibliographical introduction to biblical narrative'
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 65 (1995)
`What marks this book is its treatment of the epistemological shift concerning views of truth and human nature. This will be for many, I think, a disturbing but an important tool.'
Joseph Mulrooney, Heythrop College, The Heythrop Journal, October 1994, Volume 35, Number 4