It’s that time of the teaching year when I introduce students to narrative criticism in the books of Samuel. I always find this a joy, as students become attuned to narrative structures and devices. They develop reading strategies that make the reading experience so much richer, which in turn makes them better exegetes. Those who have been through my classes will forever remember to look for the ‘predicament’ and the ‘denouement’ (Haw! Haw! Haw!) in the biblical narratives they analyse.
One of the most significant volumes to give narrative criticism impetus in biblical studies was Robert Alter’s book, The Art of Biblical Narrative. For anyone seeking to understand narrative, especially as it’s found in biblical texts, Alter’s work is a must-read. I highly recommend it. Over at Rekindle, my friend Graham Heslop has written a neat little piece about Alter’s seminal work. It’s called ‘Rediscovering the Art of Biblical Narrative’, and I commend it to folk as a short but valuable read.
ABC Radio National’s Encounter program recently featured a piece titled The Good Book. The program looked at how the Bible is understood today as both literature (‘a good book’) and Scripture (‘The Good Book’). Among those interviewed were myself (George Athas) and some of my students from Moore College (Dan Wu, Tim Escott, Tom Melbourne, John Hudson), Cheryl Exum (Sheffield), Robert Alter (UC Berkeley), Lori Lefkovitz (Northeastern), and John Carroll (La Trobe). The range of contributors present an interesting collage of views about the Bible. If you’d like to take a listen, you can click one of the links below. The program is 54 minutes.