Hebrew Narrative

D. M. Gunn

in Text in Context

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780198263913
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601187 | DOI:
 Hebrew Narrative

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This is the fourth of five chapters on the text of the Old Testament, and focuses on the Hebrew prose narrative of the Old Testament. It starts by discussing the various definitions of the term narrative (as a mode of discourse; as a vehicle of narrative communication; as definable text) and the difficulties of determining which particular definable biblical texts are narrative texts, and notes that the attempt by the critic–reader to define so simple a thing as the narrative text is fraught with issues that have as much to do with the reader as with the text. The author notes that the title of the chapter and its placement within the ‘text’ part of the division of the book into parts on readers, text, and authors, might suggest a singular objective entity (the text) produced by authors, read by readers, and conceptually separable from both, but that the reality is more complicated. The Old Testament is described as a fuzzy‐edged concept, not a fixed object, and its text not as one but as beyond number; furthermore, the concept is ideologically loaded (i.e. reader‐oriented) and much of the essay is quite specifically not about the (Christian) Old Testament (which is why the hybrid term Hebrew Bible has been used). It is the author's understanding that there is no such thing as the text of the Old Testament apart from its readers and it is in this context that he gives an account (which he labels as partial) of biblical narrative and literary criticism over the past three decades; this is presented as an account not of what is in the biblical narratives, but of what some readers have claimed to find in these texts, and how they have gone about finding it.

Keywords: biblical narratives; biblical studies; biblical texts; critics; Hebrew narrative; literary criticism; narrative texts; narratives; Old Testament; readers

Chapter.  14235 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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