Reading The Bible As Literature.Jeanie C. Crain.Malden, Maryland: Polity Press, 2010. [vi-20] 23 pages.
This chapter review is over Reading the Bible as Literature by Jeanie C. Crain. The chapter(s) covered included the preface and Chapter 1. The preface included the idea of what the book would be concerned with reading, understanding, and assessing the literature of the Bible. The author also made it very known that the audience was the common reader, and then continued into what to expect for the first chapter. Chapter 1 covered Reading the Bible as Literature: A Way of Understanding. The outline on the first page of the chapter then gave the reader expectations of what to expect as far as gaining information from the chapter. The outline included preliminary considerations of the Bible, Appeal and Readership, A Literary Approach, Approaches Taken in Textbooks for Teaching the Bible as Literature, Traditions in Biblical Interpretation, Culture and Religion in Ancient Israel and the Jewish World View, Close Reading, and Questions for Reflection. Overall, the preface and Chapter 1 were effective in grabbing the reader’s attention for what to expect throughout the book and the general overview of reading the Bible as literature. However, concerning my reaction and evaluation on this reading, I would say I wasn’t extremely thrilled to continue reading as I had to read a number of the pages over and over, due to confusion with a lot of information thrown together that didn’t blend well together for me to understand. All in all, it was effective in telling me what to expect for the rest of the book, but difficult to just read one page and get the take away message right away.
To help readers understand how to read the Bible as literature, Jeanie C. Crain authored a book that affected the common reader audience to understand the narrative, drama, and poetry the Bible entails. The preface and Chapter 1 were written in a context to just give background for what the remainder of the book would explain as Jeanie C. Crain would explain with using other sources and her well-documented explanations.
As mentioned in the introduction, Reading the Bible as Literature starts off with a preface. The preface shared the author’s insight as to why this book was beneficial to a wide audience. The book is a text that some readers can use to help understand the Bible in a more literary view, and in turn be beneficial to the reader in other literary elements. Crain, then goes into explaining the Old Testament of the Bible sometimes is referred to as the Hebrew Bible, while the Christian New Testament, as she goes on to explain, are separate works and should be viewed that way. Crain ends the preface with the idea of her view of what to gain by reading this book and that included gaining, “common tools of literary analysis, to call attention to close reading in context, to stress the role of interpretation, and, finally as an outcome of reading and understanding, to appreciate the Bible” (Crain, vii).
Chapter 1 covered several information as the outline stated: preliminary considerations of the Bible, Appeal and Readership, A Literary Approach, Approaches Taken in Textbooks for Teaching the Bible as Literature, Traditions in Biblical Interpretation, Culture and Religion in Ancient Israel and the Jewish World View, Close Reading, and Questions for Reflection. To begin Crain explained that starting in Chapter 1 and through-out the rest of the book, italicized was her perspective aside from the information the book was giving you. After the explanation began, Crain got into how the Bible itself wasn’t original but merely copies of copies, and how with the different translations of the Bible all would be different. It’s also interesting to know when the text was being assembled into the first Bible there was no punctuation. Crain gives insight that not until later were chapters and verses added. Further into the chapter it’s explained that more than just Christianity refers to the Bible, Judaism and Islam do also (I found this extremely interesting). With more than one religion referring to the Bible, it makes sense that more than 100 million are sold worldwide each year! When it came down to how the Bible was written, there are several literary tools used that the average reader wouldn’t realize were used including: intertextuality, secondary narrative, typology, prophecy, plots, languages, metaphors, and monomyths used throughout the Bible. Using all these literary tools makes the Bible a great tool for readers to use to help distinguish them in other literature pieces. Crain also goes into some detail about the difference between Literature of the Bible, Bible in Literature, and bible as Literature; and how these differences influence textbooks in classrooms. Finally to end the chapter Crain reverted back to how the Bible is used as a historical reference for Ancient Hebrew and Jewish World View.
Reading the Bible as Literature is a great literary tool for understanding what the Bible has to offer, more than a spiritual guide. Crain thoroughly explains what the reader needs to expect from the book, how anyone can read this book, and what the Bible contains in Chapter 1. However, with all that being said I feel like Chapter 1 should have been split into three chapters. The flow wasn’t as smooth between each topic and I found myself rereading sentences, paragraphs, and pages to understand the context because I got confused as to why some didn’t flow together. I assume the reason for so much information was to cover what to expect through-out the book and the following chapters won’t be so filled with a bunch of different information! All in all, a well-written preface and chapter 1 with great information and predictions for what to follow, I just struggled to follow at times.