Dialogues of the Word attempts to make contemporary literary-critical sense of the received text of the Bible as it has been essentially fixed for most of the last two thousand years. Drawing on the theory of language developed by the Soviet critic Mikhail Bakhtin, Reed argues that the historically diverse writings of the Bible have been organized according to a concept of dialogue. The overriding concern with an ongoing communication between God and his people has been formally embodied, Reed shows, in the continuous conversation between one part of the Bible and another. This unique study looks beyond the close readings of recent accounts of the Bible as literature to larger paradigms of communication in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. Reed considers the Bible in its different canonical states, distinguishing the genres of law, prophecy, and wisdom in the Hebrew Bible and describing how these earlier forms of divine and human communication are appropriated and answered by the New Testament genre of gospel. The dialogic character of the Bible is also revealed within individual books: patriarchal answers to primeval failures in Genesis, cross-talk between justice and providence in Job, and orchestration of judgment and worship in Revelation. Throughout this wide-ranging study, Reed demonstrates the surprising relevance of Bakhtin's ideas of literature and language to the biblical writings as they assume formal coherence within the canon. Positioning itself between the fragmenting referentiality of the historical view and the consolidating authority of the theological view, this literary reading of the Bible will interest both literary and historical critics of theBible. In addition, literary critics especially concerned with Bakhtin's theory and its potential application to different texts will find this study illuminating.
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