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Unformatted text preview: Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (594) (April 1992): 146-61 [Copyright 1992 Dallas Theological Seminary; cited with permission; digitally prepared for use at Gordon College] The Gideon Narrative as the Focal Point of Judges J. Paul Tanner Training Coordinator for Biblical Studies East Asia School of Theology, Singapore Although the grandeur of Hebrew poetry has long been recog- nized, far less attention has been paid to the literary composition of Hebrew narrative. However, the last three decades have seen a dramatic shift of attention to structural and stylistic aspects of He- brew narrative. Studies have demonstrated that ancient Hebrew narratives were composed with care, using sophisticated literary techniques. 1 One interesting facet of this narrative artistry is the imposition of structure by means of textual patterning, that is, the control of words and motifs so as to form symmetrically arranged pat- terns in the text. 2 This article introduces the rhetorical study of structure in He- brew narrative, which may be termed "textual patterning." This is then applied to the Book of Judges and in particular to the Gideon narrative of Judges 6-8, since this unit serves as the pivot point for the book. The article also seeks to illustrate the significance of this research by suggesting how textual patterning in the Gideon narra- tive contributes to the theological message of the book. 1 A few of the more notable treatments of narrative artistry are Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981); Shimon Bar-Efrat, Narra- tive Art in the Bible , JSOT Supplement Series 70 (Sheffield: Almond, 1989); Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Sheffield: Almond, 1983); Robert Scholes and Robert KeIlogg, The Nature of Narrative (New York: Oxford, 1966); and Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985). 2 For a more thorough discussion of this topic, see this writer's "Textual Patterning in Biblical Hebrew Narrative: A, Case Study in Judges 6-8" (PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1990), hereafter referred to as "Textual Patterning." 146 The Gideon Narrative as the Focal Point of Judges 147 Textual Patterning in Hebrew Narrative Against the background of the traditional critical approaches to the Hebrew Scriptures, the past three decades have witnessed the emergence of a need for a synchronic approach to the text. Attention to the canonical form of the text has led to the discovery of repeated instances in which the Hebrew text has been structurally shaped and patterned. The results of such approaches have provided some bal- ance to the extremes of historical critical methods and have also demonstrated that structural patterning of the text can be an impor- tant clue to the theological emphasis of the narrative....
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