Chapter 6 Review
Hon 395-40: Reading the Bible as Literature
Title- Chapter 6: Character: A Way of Identifying
Place of publication- Cambridge, UK
Publisher- Polity Press
Date of publication- 2010
Number of pages- 110-128
Chapter 6 of Reading the Bible as Literature by Jeanie Crain teaches about yet another very important part of literature. Characters play a huge role in literature. The Bible is full of many various characters that represent a wide range of human activity. These characters may appear one-dimensional or multidimensional. Characterization, according to this book, is “revelation or display of a character’s habits, emotions, desires, and instincts. The narrator is very important. They are the one who is telling the story. They are the one who tells about the characters and what is happening in the story. God is a central character in the Bible. All stories are based around him.
All the characteristics are unique and they all must be interpreted by the reader. Interpreting and understanding the character is very important in comprehending the story itself. It is important to know why the narrator is presenting material in certain ways to uncover their motives and feelings toward the character. The bible shows characters in action and shows them develop and grow. The bible also gives non-humans characteristics to make them represent human beings.
Many ways to identify characters exist. The first is through context. Context is very important in understanding the behaviors of characters in the Bible because different parts of the Bible describe each character differently. They may only describe the positive traits of that character or only negatively. By understanding the context it’s easier to tell the description given to the character is correct. The next way is through their actions. The things they do reveal their true character. King Solomon’s reign is full of actions that make his seem not that great. These actions help to reveal his true character. Characters can be described as flat or round. Flat characters are relatively uncomplicated and do not change throughout the course of the story. They are based around a single trait or characteristic. Round characters are complex and undergo development. They are easier to understand and more relatable.
Another way to identify characters is through other character’s reactions to them. It’s a great way to show if a person is good or bad by the way others respond toward them. If they are loved by many and looked at as a hero by others, then they are probably good. If others don’t like them for reasons that are legitimate, then the person isn’t good.
Another way identify characters is through their words. What they say in speeches and to other characters can be a way they show their character. An example of this is Stephen’s speech. After his remarkable speech, he was considered a first Christian martyr or close to that of a prophet. Another way is through symbolic actions that they perform and also through requests they make to others. The Christian standard for “true greatness” is definitely Jesus. He is the model for everything that is great and good. The book says he does this by “making himself subservient to the Father, assuming the role of servant, and surrendering his life in supreme sacrifice of others.” Sometimes characters can be revealed through impact. Not everyone knows about Eunice but they know about her son Timothy. The reader can learn about Eunice by the values and positive traits that she instilled in her son.
Another way a character can be revealed is by description. An example of this is the elect lady, which is a description of the role that women play in the church. Its shows the character of the elect lady and how she and her family walk in the truth and keep the commandment to love one another. The final way character can be identify character is through structure. The gospel of Mark is this way. The structure is interpreted in different ways. Structurally, Mark emphasizes the credentials of Jesus, such as the son of God, through the words of Isaiah, and also through the words of John the Baptist. All of the characters in the Bible are very complex and should be studied to learn their impacts on Judaism and Christianity.
The goal of chapter 6 was to show the importance of characters in literature. Since characters are such a big deal in a piece of literature, it is very important to understand the many ways that characters reveal themselves. I feel the chapter was successful in achieving this goal. The examples that are provided are great to explain how the character reveals them. If it wasn’t obvious before then the examples very much help to better explain what it means. I had no idea what it meant for characters to reveal themselves through impact or structure, but the story of Eunice and the gospel of Mark really helped to explain these in a very easy to understand way.
To me, characters are one of the most important things in a story. Since it’s easy to relate to them because we are both humans, I find it easy to focus on a character and observe them closely. I almost wish there would have been more examples under some sections, just to help me better understand completely how the characters are revealed. Sometimes one example or two were sufficient. However, in the section on symbolic action, I wasn’t exactly sure I completely understood the story of Ezekiel and another example might have helped.