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date: 22 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the significance of literary milieu for the analysis and interpretation of the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, in particular, the pre-exilic narratives found in Genesis-Kings (less Ruth). Appealing to literary milieu entails a type of literary-comparative method. There are, however, not one but two forms of literary comparison: historicist comparison, based on chronological and geographical contiguity, and formalist comparison, based on formal similarity. Whereas the concrete literary connections established by the former (so-called ancient Near Eastern parallels) are indispensable to the interpretation of specific passages, the abstract properties established by the latter (poetry, prose, oral tradition, and literature) bring into focus, rather, the different representational possibilities intrinsic to these different forms of narrative art.

Keywords: Hebrew Bible, ancient Near East, narrative, prose, oral tradition, literary criticism, formalism, comparative literature, epic, myth

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