Monday, December 31, 2007

The Art of Scripture

Robert Alter's book The Art of Biblical Narrative, has much to say about the issue of reading scripture for all it's worth. Rarely do we get beyond what we assume to hear Jesus say, and therefore never hear Jesus.

Here he quotes E.H. Gombrich
"The greater the probability of a symbol's occurrence in any given situation the smaller will be its information content. Where we can anticipate we need not listen."

Alter himself concludes
"For much of art lies in the shifting aperture between shadowy foreimage in the anticipating mind of the observer and the realized revelatory image in the work itself, and that is what we must learn to perceive more finely in the bible." (pg. 62)

Alter argues that we must understand the genre and nature of Scripture and yet approach the text as if a blank state that reshapes and rebuilds everything we know about it every single time.

1 comment:

david said...

In the same vein Ellen Davis writes, "the gravest scandal in the North American church in our time - namely, the shallow reading of Scripture. Such reading results from the assumption that we already know just what the Bible says; therefore, our reading is a simple rehearsal of what (we think) we know rather than an attempt to probe deeper". In reality "no preacher can ever be astonishing (in a positive sense!) unless she has first been astonished".

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