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Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Bible & Literature) [Hardcover]

Adele Berlin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Almond Press (Nov 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0907459234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0907459231
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,519,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback
The book has a good title that promises a lot but you understand at once on entering the first page that the book is directly derived from Aristotle's Poetics and his categories. The main category the author studies here is that of point of view. From whose point of view does the narrative come? The conclusion is: multiple points of view constantly shifting. Then the next step is to analyze the biblical text - taken the way it is as one whole - and to demonstrate the various points of view in a chapter or a verse and what it may reveal about the meaning. In that perspective the author identifies the particle "hinneh" as a deictic particle that centers the eyes of the reader on something happening in the text, and also as a particle that may shift the point of view from a person to another within the narrative. Hence for the author this particle is double, twofold. Unluckily that is the limit the book cannot even identify. The two uses of "hinneh" are the same: a deictic particle that points at something happening in the text, an event ir a shift of point of view or narrator with a new event. And in this second case it also shifts tenses from past (narrative) to present (obviously modal). The author is no linguist and since Aristotle's Poetics totally neglect the linguistic dimension of poetry, the musical dimension of poetry as pure incidentally linguistic sound, Adele Berlin is not incited to ask the right questions, and the linguistic element "hinneh" will remain the only one studied in this approach. The only other linguistic element is purely lexical: repetition of words and phrases and their eventual variations. I was expecting a lot more and particularly how the language in its phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic music(s) builds the meaning of the text. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for reading OT narrative 10 Dec 2004
By Matt Fabian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Berlin is part of a fairly new method of studying the Bible: literary criticism. Traditional criticism (i.e. form criticism) deconstructs texts to pull out strands (like JEPD). Literary criticism is not concerned with how a text came to be, but on the text we have before us. Berlin enlightens the reader on how the Biblical author's use literary techniques to communicate meaning. Narrative is not usually explicit ("do this or dont do this). Narrtive teaches implicitly, by showing us how or how not to live. But to learn from narrative, we must be sensetive to the author's methods of communication. Berlin is famous for her statement "Before we can know what a text means we must know how it means.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise and well written . . . valuable as college level text 15 Feb 2007
By David Scroggins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Berlin is a reputable scholar who consistently produces well written volumes. I unconvinced that this particular work presents any significant advance from the work of Alter in the 1980's, though her focus on specific structural signs of point of view shifts is helpful. It seems to me that the chief contribution of this particular work is that it is better suited for a college level text than Alter's. While it would be unfair to call Alter's writing style superfluous, Berlin's work is characteristically concise and therefore better suited for the more generalized setting of a college course of biblical literature. Overall, a valuable addition to my library.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to an interesting new area of study. 22 Nov 2012
By Robert C. Owens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by the pastor of our church. It is a good introduction to studying the Old Testament from the narrative perspective. I look forward to pursuing this topic.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too aristotelician to capture Biblical inspiration 22 Oct 2007
By Jacques COULARDEAU - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book has a good title that promises a lot but you understand at once on entering the first page that the book is directly derived from Aristotle's Poetics and his categories. The main category the author studies here is that of point of view. From whose point of view does the narrative come? The conclusion is: multiple points of view constantly shifting. Then the next step is to analyze the biblical text - taken the way it is as one whole - and to demonstrate the various points of view in a chapter or a verse and what it may reveal about the meaning. In that perspective the author identifies the particle "hinneh" as a deictic particle that centers the eyes of the reader on something happening in the text, and also as a particle that may shift the point of view from a person to another within the narrative. Hence for the author this particle is double, twofold. Unluckily that is the limit the book cannot even identify. The two uses of "hinneh" are the same: a deictic particle that points at something happening in the text, an event ir a shift of point of view or narrator with a new event. And in this second case it also shifts tenses from past (narrative) to present (obviously modal). The author is no linguist and since Aristotle's Poetics totally neglect the linguistic dimension of poetry, the musical dimension of poetry as pure incidentally linguistic sound, Adele Berlin is not incited to ask the right questions, and the linguistic element "hinneh" will remain the only one studied in this approach. The only other linguistic element is purely lexical: repetition of words and phrases and their eventual variations. I was expecting a lot more and particularly how the language in its phonological, lexical, syntactic and semantic music(s) builds the meaning of the text. Then, due to his own shortcoming, the author can only compare his approach with other approaches, such as the historical and/or formalistic interpretative ones. But that does not lead very far, except to the conclusion that the Biblical text is ambiguous, which is a pure truism: a great text, literary or other, is necessarily ambiguous because it contains several points of view and it requires several reading points of view, because a text is a voyeuristic experience and its greatness comes from the multifariousness of both the writing and the reading voyeurisms that are always at work in any text (since language in all its parameters is randomly symbolical of something it is not by nature and even essence) and particularly a literary or religious text. Then a comparison with Homer (whose texts did not have at all the same value or position in the Greek cultural consciousness as the Old Testament had within the religious domain of the cultural consciousness of the Israelis, or Jews) shows how the biblical text is essentially founded on the background, on subjective elements and never on precise and luminous descriptions of details. But that conclusion is slightly limited in scope and results and falls off a long way from what the Biblical text is and how it works.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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