Biblical Narrative

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Hey guys, let’s tackle the most significant book of all time!  (Seriously, though, we were made for it).  I am opening this post up with three things in mind:

1. The Bible has its foundation in the telling of stories from one person to another (via word-of-mouth and then, of course, that old tormentor, the Greek language).  

2. The Bible contains people whose characterization is nonfiction and ought to be viewed as such.

3. The Bible contains a plethora of literary elements, undoubtedly, but for a far greater purpose than other literature serves.  Let’s think about the literary aspects then, noting especially those stories which are relayed in the Bible from one person to another.  We know that Jesus’ parables were often viewed as allegories, but should we view them as such?

That being said, we can say a great deal about the Bible by delving into these stories from many different angles.  It is important that we maintain an understanding of the difference between fiction and nonfiction.

That also being said, I believe that literary elements are based upon those circumstances to which we are drawn in real life.  Perhaps that’s another story entirely…

Favorite Biblical figure, on three.

3, 2, 1.

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9 thoughts on “Biblical Narrative

  1. Having not read the Bible in some time, I have to go with Job, since that book left an indelible impression upon me. He reminds me a lot of Orestes, chiefly because somewhere in the Orestia, I think in the Agamemnon, the chorus points out that Zeus’ law is to suffer into truth. I know in Job’s case he was already aware of the truth of things, and so the story was more about staying the course than it was finding it; and yet I can’t shake the notion that suffering is necessary if any Good is to be achieved. Thucydides points in the same direction, or at least he did when I read him!, when he pointed out that War is a harsh but thorough teacher, which to my mind means that strife has the potential to take you a step closer to *something*.

  2. Eric says:

    Your observation that the Bible contains people whose characterization is nonfiction is keen, and it’s an essential one for unlocking the literariness of the Bible’s books. So much Biblical scholarship nowadays, especially that which comes from outside the Christian faith community, obsesses over how the Bible’s texts were collected, collated, edited, changed, transmitted, etc. What that scholarship usually doesn’t do is honor the text itself with the kind of close reading that reveals its literary luster. It’s refreshing to see the Bible discussed as literature.

    The book of Ruth comes to mind as an excellent example. I’m not so interested in how the book of Ruth was a piece of propaganda circulated by the Davidic dynasty to cast the king’s rule in a virtuous and romantic light and thereby win the peoples’ hearts (whether that is or is not true). What excites me is that the book of Ruth can go to toe-to-toe with any short story ever written in terms of its surgically careful structure and masterful use of literary elements.

    • brigittaestelle says:

      Eric,
      First, I really appreciate your support of the post, especially given your wealth of knowledge in this area. I must admit, however, that the idea of valuing the Bible’s literary elements was inspired by a professor, so I cannot take the credit. And I certainly have much more of the Bible to read before I can pinpoint many of the profound literary elements. But I’m always interested in getting advice on where to look!

      I love your insight about Ruth. I hadn’t heard the first perspective you mentioned, but now that you point it out, I can certainly see the similarities between the story’s tone and other propaganda writings. Of course, the sentimental beginning of the story seems a bit frilly in that case, but I suppose that can also play a role. You’re definitely correct about the elements of short story. I am amazed by the format of this story as it compares to others. The feminist foundation is especially wonderful! 😀

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