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Narrative Art in the Bible

, 2004
ISBN: 9780567084958

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This illuminating study provides a comprehensive examination of the literary aspects of biblical narrative, which comprises over a third of the Hebrew Bible. The attitudes and interjections of the narrator, the shaping of characters, time and space, the structure of the plot and the style are discussed and illustrated, clarifying the issues raised as well as shedding fresh light on the narratives. Dr. Bar-Efrat concludes with a detailed literary analysis on the story of Ammon Tamar.

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“The narrator does not often provide us with information about God’s inner feelings. In consequence, we can assume that when such information is given, the matter is of special importance.” (Page 19)

“In biblical narrative information about someone’s outward aspect serves solely as a means of advancing the plot or explaining its course.” (Page 48)

“Amongst the instances of direct characterization uttered by the protagonists, particular attention should be paid to those attributed to God. Characterization voiced by God has absolute validity, like that pronounced by the narrator, or perhaps even more so.” (Page 54)

“The relation between narrator and narrative is not like that between painter and painting or composer and a musical composition. It is distinguished by the fact that the narrator is, quite simply, inside the narrative; he or she is an integral part of the work, one of its structural components, even one of the most important ones.” (Pages 12–13)

“Time stops in two situations: a. when interpretations, explanations, conclusions or evaluations are given by the narrator; b. when depictions are given within the narrative.” (Page 146)

The arguments in these chapters are well-balanced and lucid; a good rhythm of theory and practice ensures a constant stream of to-the-point observation on style, material, and disposition.

—Jan P. Fkkelman

  • Title: Narrative Art in the Bible
  • Author: Shimon Bar-Efrat
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 296

Shimon Bar-Efrat is Head of Biblical Studies at the Hebrew University Secondary School, Jerusalem.


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Digital list price: $18.99
Save $5.00 (26%)