Judges

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Topics: Bible
Methodology Paper
Using Narrative Criticism to Interpret the Book of Judges

The Book of Judges as a Narrative

Generations of scholars have admired and studied the “high degree of artistic composition” in the Hebrew Bible (Polzin 11). These have been made possible by the narrator’s in-depth writing styles present in the brief nature of their respective works. Though there is no dispute on the admiration of Hebrew Bible’s artistry, many scholars disagree on the methodology that should be used to interpret the Hebrew Bible correctly. In attempting to find the correct interpretation, certain books are more highly disputed among scholars and their preferred methodologies than others. One of the most highly disputed books in the Hebrew Bible is the book of Judges. The book of Judges is bursting with literary, narrative, geographical, redaction, and historical elements, which contribute to the varied interpretations of the text, arrived at by varied methods of critically analyzing the text. I will argue that Narrative Criticism informs our interpretation of the book of Judges by illuminating the fact that Israel’s strong spiritual direction is deteriorating without Godly moral leadership. Form Criticism, which is the Biblical method that seeks to discover the type of literature that is contained in the bible, Historical Criticism, which examines the roots of ancient manuscript in order to understand “the world behind the text” (Soulen 78), and Biblical Criticism, which seeks to make discerning judgments about biblical writings through study and investigation are all methodologies used in interpreting scripture. When using Form Criticism, the recognition of the specific type of form being used and how it is to be interpreted is critical. The usefulness of Form Criticism is that it establishes rigid, interpretive boundaries throughout the text, which aid the interpreter to not over or under interpret it. When using Historical Criticism, it is critical to



Cited: Gillmayr-Bucher, Susanne. "Framework and Discourse in the Book of Judges." Journal of Biblical Literature. 128.4 (2009): 687. Web. 9 Nov. 2013. . Roy Martin, Lee. "Power To Save!?: The Role Of The Spirit Of The Lord In The Book Of Judges." Journal Of Pentecostal Theology 16.2 (2008): 21-50. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Pope, Robert. "Lee Roy Martin, The Unheard Voice Of God: A Pentecostal Hearing Of The Book Of Judges: A Theological Review." Journal Of Pentecostal Theology 18.1 (2009): 20-29. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Miller, Paul. "Moral Formation And The Book Of Judges." Evangelical Quarterly 75.2 (2003): 99. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Brettler, Marc. "The Book Of Judges Literature As Politics." Journal Of Biblical Literature 108.3 (1989): 395. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Webb, Barry. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Judges. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012. Print. Atkinson, Paul, and Sara Delamont. Narrative methods. London: SAGE, 2006. Soulen, Richard N., and R. Kendall Soulen. Handbook of biblical criticism. 3rd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox P, 2011. Logan, Alice. "Rehabilitating Jephthah." Journal Of Biblical Literature 128.4 (2009): 665-685. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. Yee, Gale A. Judges & method: New approaches in biblical studies. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress P, 2007. Freedman, David Noel. "Judges." The Anchor Bible dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 163. Bar-Efrat, Shimeon. Narrative art in the Bible. Sheffield, England: Almond P, 1989. 13-14. Sternberg, Meir. The poetics of biblical narrative. New York: Crossroad, 1984. 236-37. Robert Polzin, Samuel and the Deuteronomist: I Samuel (1st ed.; A Literary Study of the Deuteronomistic History, part. 2; San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), 11.

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