Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

Basic HTML Version

Ho ffm an ’s work combines attentiveness to
the literary-esthetic devices employed by individual authors,
such as irony and repetition , with an eye to the identification
o f
sought by classical form-criticism.22 H o ffm an ’s
The Doctrine of the Exodus in the Bible
(Hebrew; Tel-Aviv,
1983), examines the ideology o f the exodus from Egypt as d e ­
picted in the d iffe ren t genres o f biblical literature, such as
prophecy, psalmody, To rah - lite ra tu re and historiography.
Polak has devoted much o f his work to prose
narrative. He attempts to bridge the gap between “diachronic”
and “synchronic,” method , o r pu t differently, between literary-
esthetic study and classical h igher criticism. An exemplary a r ­
ticle o f Polak’s (see bibliography) attempts to demonstrate
Cassuto’s claim tha t biblical narrative originates from ancient
Northwest Semitic epic poetry ra th e r than in folktale as
H erm ann Gunkel had argued . Polak limits the potentially ex­
cessive subjectivity o f literary-esthetic study by matching biblical
narrative phrases with the ir ancient contemporaries in Ugaritic
and Akkadian epic texts. In addition, Polak employs computer-
assisted research to ascertain frequency o f epic diction within
biblical narratives.
S ternberg is very much a reade r o f “the
Bible as L itera tu re .” He advocates a comprehensive poetics
which he terms “foo lproof composition.” In S ternberg’s u n d e r ­
standing o f biblical narrative, composition “includes and gov­
erns a large repe rto ire o f cross-textual forms, patterns, devices;
each cuts across text units to exercise its own foo lproof logic.”23
T h rough cross-cutting, biblical narrative plot moves from ob­
scurity to relative clarity. S ternberg provides a comprehensive
statement o f method in
The Poetics ofBiblical Narrative: Ideological
Literature and the Drama of Reading
(Bloomington, 1985).
Recent work by U ffenhe imer has been
22. See Y. Hoffman, “Irony in the Book o f Job,”
17 (1983/84), 7-21;
idem, “The Transition from Despair to Hope in the Individual Psalms of
Lament,” (Hebrew),
55 (1985/86), 161-172.
23. See M. Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics: From Reading to
Journal of Biblical Literature
111 (1992), 463-468 and es­
pecially 464. The entire article is a response to a critique o f
by D.
Fewell and D. Gunn, “Tipping the Balance: Sternberg’s Reader and the
Rape o f Dinah,”
Journal of Biblical Literature
110 (1991)— 193-211.