The Hebrew Bible, or Christian Old Testament, contains some of the finest literature that we have. This biblical literature has a place not only in the synagogue or the church but also among the classics of world literature. The stories of Jacob and David, for instance, present the earliest surviving examples of literary characters whose development the reader follows over the length of a lifetime. Elsewhere, as in the books of Esther or Ruth, readers find a snapshot of a particular, fraught moment that will define the character. The Hebrew Bible also provides quite a few high points of lyric poetry, from the praise and lament of the Psalms to the double entendres in the love of poetry of the Song of Songs.
In short, the Bible can be celebrated not only as religious literature but, quite simply, as literature. This book offers a thorough and lively introduction to the Bible's two primary literary modes, narrative and poetry, foregrounding the nuances of plot, character, metaphor, structure and design, and intertextual allusions. Tod Linafelt thus gives readers the tools to fully experience and appreciate the Old Testament's literary achievement.
Tod Linafelt is professor of biblical literature in the theology department at Georgetown University. He teaches courses on biblical literature, the Bible in popular culture, and the Hebrew scriptures.