The Poetics Of Biblical Narrative / Edition 1

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"This... is a brilliant work."

"[Sternberg] has written a very important book, both for his comprehensiveness and for the clearly-avowed faith stance from which he understands and interprets the strategies of the biblical narratives.... a superb overview... "
—Theological Studies

"... rated very highly indeed. It is a book to read and then reread." —Modern Language Review

"... Sternberg has accomplished an enormous task, enriching our understanding of the theoretical basis of biblical narrative and giving us insight into a remarkable number of particular texts." —Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"... an important book for those who seek to take the Bible seriously as a literary work because it shows, more clearly and emphatically than any book I know, that the Bible is a serious literary work—a text manifesting a highly sophisticated and successful narrative poetics." —Adele Berlin, Prooftexts

Indiana University Press

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Product Details

Table of Contents


1. Literary Text, Literary Approach: Getting the Questions
Discourse and Source
Fiction and History
Form and
The Drama of Reading

2. Narrative Models

Ideology of Narration and Narration of Ideology
Omniscience Charged and Monopolized: The
Epistemological Revolution
The Omnipotence Effect: Control Claimed and

4. Viewpoints and Interpretations
Point of View and Its
Biblical Configuration
The Wooing of Rebekah
Positions and Discrepancies
The Movement form Divergence to Convergence of Perspectives
Tensions and Final Resolution

5. The Play of Perspectives
Narrator vs.
Narrator and Reader vs. God and Characters Spheres of Communication
Reading Positions
From Plot to Perspective
From Ignorance to
Privilege and Performance

6. Gaps, Ambiquity and the Reading
The Literary Work as a System of Gaps
The Story of David and Bathsheba: On the Narrator’s Reticence and Omissions
The Ironic Exposition
What Is the
King Doing in the City?
Uriah the Hittite Recalled to Jerusalem
Does Uriah Know about His Wife’s Doings? The Twofold Hypothesis
What Does David Think That Uriah
Thinks? The Three-Way Hypothesis
How Joab Fails to Carry Out David’s
The Analogy to the Story of Abimelech and the Woman
On Mutually Exclusive
Systems of Gap-Filling: Turning the Screws of Henry James and Others

Between the Truth and the Whole Truth
Foolproof Composition in Ambiguity
Relevance of Absence
Temporary and Permanent Gapping
The Echoing
Opposition in Juxtaposition
Coherence Threatened and
Norms and Their Violations
From Gapping to Closure: The Functions of

8. Temporal Discontinuity, Narrative Interest, and the Emergence of
Suspense and the Dynamics of Prospection
The Pros and Cons of Suspense in the Bible
Modes of Shaping the Narrative Future
Darkness in Light, or: Zigzagging toward Sisera’s End
Curiosity and the Dynamics of Retrospection
Joseph and
His Brothers: Making Sense of the Past
Surprise and the Dynamics of

9. Proleptic Portraits
Character and Characterization: From
Divine to Human
Why the Truth about Character Does Not Suffice
The Art of the
Proleptic Epithet
Epithets and the Rule of Forward-looking

10. Going from Surface to Depth
Character as Action, Character in Action
The Composition of Character and the Limits of Metonymic Inference
Age in Genesis
Good Looks in Samuel

11. The Structure of Repetition:
Strategies of Informational Redundancy
Similarity Patterns and the Structure of
Formulaic Convention or Functional Principle?
Constant and Variable
Verbatim Repetition
Repetition with Variation: Forms and Functions of
Repetition and Communication: Pharah’s Dream
Basic Axes and Natural
From Natural to Functional Combinations
Deliberate Variation:
(Figural) Rhetoric within (Narratorial) Rhetoric
Generic Transformation into
Permutations and Some Complications
Repetition and Narrative Art: Some
General Consequences

12. The Art of Persusion
Persuading in the Court of
Delicate Balance in the Rape of Dinah
The Rhetorical

13. Ideology, Rhetoric, Poetics
Justifying the Ways of God to
Man: Saul’s Rejection
Dancing in Chains
Dialogue as Pressure, Variations as
Convergence with Belated Discovery: Rhetorical



Indiana University Press

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