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The Art Of Biblical Narrative de Robert…
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The Art Of Biblical Narrative (1981 original; edició 1983)

de Robert Alter (Autor)

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1,2801311,642 (4.19)28
From celebrated translator of the Hebrew Bible Robert Alter, the classic study of the Bible as literature, a winner of the National Jewish Book Award Renowned critic and translator Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative has radically expanded our view of the Bible by recasting it as a work of literary art deserving studied criticism. In this seminal work, Alter describes how the Hebrew Bible's many authors used innovative literary styles and devices such as parallelism, contrastive dialogue, and narrative tempo to tell one of the most revolutionary stories of all time: the revelation of a single God. In so doing, Alter shows, these writers reshaped not only history, but also the art of storytelling itself.… (més)
Membre:T.CraigCarlton
Títol:The Art Of Biblical Narrative
Autors:Robert Alter (Autor)
Informació:Basic Books (1983), Edition: 49390th, 208 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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The Art of Biblical Narrative de Robert Alter (1981)

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Robert Alter believes that employing the tools of literary analysis to the scriptures increases the reader’s enjoyment of them, leading to a deeper grasp of their theological and moral message. He demonstrates this by examining various episodes, many of them taken from the masterful story cycles centered on Jacob, Joseph, and David. Alter shows how careful attention to keywords, the alternation between dialogue and narration, and compression or expansion of the narrative pace can reveal insight into the character and motivation of those who appear.
This reading is enriched by the insights both of medieval commentators such as Abraham Ibn Ezra and Rashi and more recent proponents of the historical-critical method. These might seem opposing approaches since the medieval commentators seem the epitome of those who treat the scriptures as the unitary revelation of the divine word. At the same time, more recent scholars are often criticized for an approach that atomizes the text, breaking it into small units from disparate sources. Yet, both approaches can yield significant insights that inform and supplement what the careful reader finds.
In one instance, Alter surprised me with the explanatory power of his literary analysis. One stumbling block for modern readers of scriptures is that some incidents are told twice. For example, there are two contradictory accounts of how the young David came to the attention of King Saul. A common explanation for this is the redactor uses material from two sources that have not been fully integrated. This might be true as far as it goes, says Alter, but it doesn’t explain why a redactor, who shows his mastery and artistry in other ways, chose to present these accounts successively. He suggests the reason is to create a collage analogous to cubist painting. The result is to illuminate different aspects of David’s character and the manner of his election as king. Alter suggests the redactor is aware that he has thereby complicated his account, but then again, people and their motives are complicated.
By the end of the book, when Alter unequivocally characterizes Bible narrative as fiction, this in no way seems dismissive. On the contrary, he reckons with its full power to bring “us into an inner zone of complex knowledge about human nature, divine intentions, and the strong but sometimes confusing threads that bind the two.”
This book is densely written and, therefore, not an easy read, but it is accessible enough to repay attentive reading. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Dec 10, 2021 |
I really enjoyed this book. Alter walks through the literary features of the Hebrew Bible (within the narrative accounts). There are so many great insights in this book.

While Alter identifies the historical impulse behind the biblical text, he doesn't hold up the historicity of everything in the biblical account which I would. However his attention to the literary artistry and examination of the Hebrew idiom and literary conventions (i.e. repetition of key words, variations in repeated words, economic prose, type scenes, etc.) provides great exegetical insights. This is not at all antagonistic to historical and theological reading of the text (in principle, though possible in particulars). The value of this book is that it argues persuasively for a close reading of the biblical text. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Now having just reread my old copy, I realize that Alter has recently put out a revised edition. It would, of course, be interesting to read that, but certainly the original has held up well over three decades, much better than most books of that era. It is still exciting, and I look forward to reading more of his books. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Dec 31, 2013 |
Exciting stuff! ( )
  TanteLeonie | Mar 31, 2013 |
51. [The Art of Biblical Narrative (Revised and Updated)] by Robert Alter (1981, revised and updated in 2011, 248 pages, read Aug 14 – Sept 11)

lilbrattyteen has a spectacular review of this book posted on the LibraryThing.com work page, and manages to highlight all the main points. The main thing I have to add is that this was quite fascinating, but also difficult to read. Robert Alter is thoroughly precise in everything he says, but part of what results are numerous convoluted sentences filled with adverbs and adjectives and multiple comparisons. Sometimes I had to read a sentence of a few times to get the grasp of it.

The basic premise is that the bible has rich assortment of literary elements that get lost when it is evaluated primarily in a spiritual, theologically critical, source critical or historical way - the main ways the bible is evaluated. He then goes through the historical books and Job highlighting numerous fundamental literary aspects.

I'll try to briefly highlight three of them...or maybe just quote Alter.

On the key tensions in the narrative. This serves both to make a thought-provoking point and to highlight the difficulty in reading Alter. (i.e. good luck)

The ancient Hebrew writers...seek through the process of narrative realization to reveal the enactment of God's purposes in historical events. This enactment, however, is continuously complicated by a perception of two, approximately parallel, dialectical tensions. One is the tension between the divine plan and the disorderly character of actual historical events, to translate this opposition into specifically biblical terms, between the divine promise and its ostensible failure to be fulfilled; the other is a tension between God's will, His providential guidance, and human freedom, the refractory nature of man

On the intimate link between the language and meaning:

Language in the biblical stories is never conceived as a transparent envelope of the narrated events or an aesthetic embellishment of them but as an integral and dynamic component—an insistent dimension—of what is being narrated. With language God creates the world; through language He reveals his design in history to men.
The most interesting chapter for me may have been on the art of reticence; on how the bible can bring out complex meaning and striking characters through a laconic language and skeletal narration. How does the Bible manage to evoke such a sense of depth and complexity in its representation of character with what would seem to be such sparse , even rudimentary means? Biblical narrative offers us, after all, nothing in the way of minute analysis of motives or detailed rendering of mental processes; whatever indications we may be vouchsafed of feeling, attitude, or intention are rather minimal; and we are given only the barest hints about the physical appearance, the tics and gestures, the dress and implements of the characters, the material milieu in which they enact their destinies. In short, all the indicators of nuanced individuality to which the Western literary tradition has accustomed us—preeminently in the novel, but ultimately going back to the Greek epics and romances—would appear to be absent from the Bible.

... skipping to the end of chapter...

But the underlying biblical conception of character as often unpredictable, in some ways impenetrable, constantly emerging from and slipping back into a penumbra of ambiguity, in fact has greater affinity with dominant modern notions than do the habits of conceiving character typical of the Greek epics.


What really stands out to me here is that not only does the Bible have literary elements that can only be observed when looking at in a literary way, but that efforts of decomposing these elements in a literature so different from what we are used to enlightens us in the nature of all literature.

2012
http://www.librarything.com/topic/138560#3699644
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From celebrated translator of the Hebrew Bible Robert Alter, the classic study of the Bible as literature, a winner of the National Jewish Book Award Renowned critic and translator Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative has radically expanded our view of the Bible by recasting it as a work of literary art deserving studied criticism. In this seminal work, Alter describes how the Hebrew Bible's many authors used innovative literary styles and devices such as parallelism, contrastive dialogue, and narrative tempo to tell one of the most revolutionary stories of all time: the revelation of a single God. In so doing, Alter shows, these writers reshaped not only history, but also the art of storytelling itself.

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