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Books

On Narratives and Central Propositions

By | Arts, Beauty, Books, Writing | No Comments
Someone asked me this question recently: “Do authors (of classic literature, broadly, and the Bible, specifically) have an agenda/thesis/big idea/etc. in mind before/when they write? Or do they start writing and let an agenda emerge?”
And I said I think it depends on the genre.
If someone picked up a modern hymn book and tried to find a thesis, they’d be hard pressed to do so. Yet they would find a certain organization. I think the same is true with the Psalms. The psalms are a collection. Same with Proverbs. People look for outlines and central ideas on those books and…nada. That may even be the case with Song of Songs. For sure I think those who see a beginning-middle-end structure to Song of Solomon are pressing a later Greek storytelling structure on a 10th-century-BC book that was more likely chiastic if there is actually even a story to it.…
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How the Tamar Narrative Functions in the Judah and Joseph Narratives

By | Blog Interviews With Writers, Books, Gender & Faith, Justice, Women | No Comments

I’m happy to have Carolyn Custis James as my guest today. In Vindicating the Vixens, she contributed the chapter on Tamar. In November she served on a panel of contributors who talked about narrative analysis at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Providence, Rhode Island. Here are some quotes from her remarks: 

[In the Genesis narrative] just as the Joseph story reaches a fever pitch and readers are on the edge of their seats, instead of following Joseph into Egypt, the narrator follows Judah away from his family into Canaanite territory and into a salacious R-rated story involving prostitution with his daughter-in-law Tamar. From a literary perspective, the narrator’s choice seems counterproductive. From a pastoral perspective, this sordid story is problematic, unsuitable for a G audience, and devoid of any spiritual value. Pastors often skip it….

Far from being a literary gaffe, the narrator’s decision to …

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