procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

how to read a narrative

here's a great list of 10 questions on how to read narrative (biblical or otherwise).

  1. who is the hero?
  2. what constitutes the quest?
  3. who are the helpers and the antagonists? (this can include people as well as factors)
  4. do you sense the presence of the narrator anywhere in the text?
  5. what does the narrator do with the chronology of the events?
  6. what happens with the narrated time? (does it speed up, slow down, stop, are there gaps?)
  7. is the plot clear on its own, or is it only understandable within a larger narrative? (if the latter, what is the macroplot?)
  8. what can you say about the dialogues?*
  9. what word choices or other style/structure characteristics strike you?
  10. how is the unit divided? are there further subdivisions?
* i don't think the order is important, yet it is interesting that this comes so far down.

This list is adapted from Jan Fokkelman, Reading Biblical Narrative: An Introductory Guide (Louisville, K.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999 ET), as quoted in Provan, Long and Longman, A Biblical History of Israel (also Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), p90.

I was reading aBHoI as I think some more about narrative and history.

my question is: to what extent is it necessary to pursue/argue for/maintain the historicity of the claims to make sense of the text, particularly as one seeks to live a godly life in response to scripture? They (ch4 is mainly V. Philips Long's) argue that because biblical narratives make historical truth claims, 'ahistorical readings are perforce false misreadings' (p81).

i want to think some more on this.

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