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What Is Narrative Criticism? (Guides to Biblical Scholarship New Testament Series) [Paperback]

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Item Number 145998  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   140
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.49" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1991
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800604733  
EAN  9780800604738  


Availability  89 units.
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Item Description...
Overview
This book is the first nontechnical description of the principles and procedures of narrative criticism. Mark Allan Powell distinguishes literary criti cism from various modes of historical criticism--source, form, and redaction--and also delineates several types of literary criticism--structuralist, rhetorical, reader- response, and narrative. He then describes, analyzes, and illustrates the categories that narrative criticism employs, such as implied author and reader, narrator, character, events, settings. Mark Allan Powell is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Director of Continuing and Post-Graduate Studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.

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More About Mark Allan Powell

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Mark Allan Powell has published articles on contemporary Christian music in "Christian Century, Christianity Today, " and "Trinity Seminary Review." He is frequently interviewed in print and over the airwaves concerning the proliferation of rock, rap, and other popular genres of Christian music. He is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and is the author of seventeen books, including the best-sellers "Jesus as a Figure in History" and "Narrative Criticism: A New Approach to the Bible."

Mark Allan Powell was born in 1953.

Mark Allan Powell has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Guides to Biblical Scholarship
  2. Symposium Series


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Scripture as story  Feb 15, 2007
The first thing to keep in mind is that this excellent volume by Mark Allan Powell, despite its inclusive title, really deals with narrative criticism as applied to the canonical gospels, mainly the synoptic gospels. Powell briefly brings secular literary scholarship into the discussion, but always as background to the development of narrative criticism by biblical scholars and its comparison with other literary critical movements. The second thing is that this is a non-technical, introductory work in which the concepts used by narrative critics are explained simply and clearly, making the book accessible to a wide readership.

Chapter 1, Scripture as Story, shows why the various forms of historical criticism, necessary as they may be, are not sufficient to elicit the meaning of the Gospels, because "they fail to take seriously the narrative character of [these texts]." Powell identifies biblical scholars David Rhoads (for his work on Mark), Jack Dean Kingsbury (Matthew), R. Alan Culpepper (John) and Robert Tannehill (Luke-Acts) as pioneers of the discipline, having "provided the first comprehensive treatments of the New Testament's five narrative books." He introduces one of the important concepts used by narrative critics, that of the implied author, which we will meet repeatedly in the succeeding pages. He then notes the major differences between narrative criticism and historical criticism.

Chapter 2, Ways of Reading, outlines different literary critical methods: Structuralism, rhetorical criticism, several theories of reader-response criticism, and finally narrative criticism. We learn that secular literary scholars, unlike biblical scholars, do not recognize narrative criticism as an independent methodology, but classify it as a variety of reader-response criticism. Powell acknowledges that these two methods may eventually come together. In this chapter, too, he introduces another important concept, that of the implied reader; like implied author, it is a construct of the text (not external to it).

Chapter 3, Story and Discourse, introduces what critics call the evaluative point of view, referring to "the standards of judgment by which readers are led to evaluate the events, characters and settings that comprise the story." Along with implied author and implied reader, it stands out in the analyses we find in the following three chapters. Rhetorical devices discussed here include narration, symbolism, irony, and narrative patterns found in biblical stories.

Chapters 4 - 6 respectively discuss events, characters, and settings, the three major elements of a story, mentioned above. Powell presents the narrative understanding of several constituent parts of each element. Thus, Events is broken down into sections on order, duration, causation, conflict, and so forth. Under Characters we meet such topics as character traits, empathy, sympathy, and antipathy. Settings are described as spatial, temporal, and social. The high points of these chapters, indeed of the whole book, are extended applications of the preceding categories in the form of case studies. The case study of Chapter 4 (Events) is The Plot of Matthew, an altogether fine effort by Powell, especially the conflict analysis and the conclusions. The case study of Chapter 5 (Characters) is The Religious Leaders in the Synoptic Gospels, where Powell explains the different ways the Gospels treat the subject. The basic quality ascribed to the religious authorities in Mark is that they are without authority; in Matthew, that they are evil; in Luke, that they are self-righteous and, therefore, unloving. The final case study is Settings in the Gospel of Mark. I found the analysis of Mark's use of time (temporal setting) particularly revealing.

Chapter 7, the last before the Appendix, in some ways mirrors the first. The title is reversed - here it is Story as Scripture - and the ending refers to Matthew 13:52, as does the very first sentence of the book. This surely is intentional literary design. In between title and ending, Powell discusses the advantages and limitations of narrative criticism, answers some objections concerning it, again brings up its relation to historical investigation, before concluding that it provides only one of several keys to the correct interpretation of biblical texts.

Finally, an Appendix lists a set of questions to aid in the exegesis of single pericopes (rather than an entire Gospel) under the headings of (again) Events, Characters, and Settings, and a further heading, Overall Interpretation. Most questions end with page numbers that refer us back to the main discussions, thus serving as excellent reminders.

I recommend this slim, informative volume to all readers who want to know what "scripture as story" is all about.
 

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