The Literary Guide to the Bible by Robert Alter, Frank Kermode

By Robert Alter, Frank Kermode

Rediscover the incmparable literary richness and power of the Bible. a world crew of well known students bargains and book-by-book advisor in the course of the outdated Testaments in addition to basic essays at the Bible as a complete, delivering an attractive reintroduction to a piece that has formed our language and inspiration for millions of years.

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On the one hand, Abraham's outspoken haggling with God over the dwindling remnant of integrity which he hopes may still exist in Sodom and Gomorrah (18:2333) is a textual unit that consists entirely of dialogue. Similarly, in the bargaining scene in chapter 23 the spoken word carries the plot entirely, the narrator being content with a marginal role. The body of the text consists of three rounds of dialogue, marked by bows by Abraham. It concerns increasingly concrete negotiations between him and the Hittites of Hebron which result in a purchase (vv.

With whom did he counsel, who taught him, who led him in the path of right and told him wisdom's way? Why, the nations are a drop from the bucket, like the balance's dust they're accounted, why, the coastlands he plucks up like motes. Lebanon is not fuel enough, its beasts not enough for the offering. All nations are as naught before him, he accounts them as empty and nothing. And to whom would you liken God, what likeness for him propose? Do you not know, have you not heard? Was it not told you from the first, have you not understood the foundations of earth?

We have seen, then, that there is striking variety in the body of ancient Hebrew literature preserved in the Bible, a variety that stems from the long centuries through which it evolved, the different genres it represents, the divergent aims and viewpoints of its authors. All that notwithstanding, this is a corpus that bears within it the seeds of its own canonicity. Earlier, we noted the strong elements of internal allusion in Hebrew Scripture that at many points make it a set of texts in restless dialogue with one another.

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