The Art Of Biblical Poetry [ePub]

by Robert Alter

Perhaps not as rich as his previous volume on Biblical narrative, which I read earlier in the year, but this work still punches above its weight (don't you hate stupid cliches?).Understanding Hebrew poetry is primarily about understanding how parallelism works. If something is repeated in a parallel line, there is ALWAYS a reason. And it's not merely to "fill out the line" or "keep the meter right," as some have supposed. Even "synonymous" parallelism has a purpose. When reading Hebrew poetry, ask yourself why the poet did why he did with the parallelism—he is heightening a metaphor? Expanding it? Contrasting it? Moving it along narratively? And so on and so forth.

So many of us read Hebrew poetry (especially the Psalms and prophets) just like we read prose. That is a mistake. Go read some George Herbert and John Donne, then flip over the psalms. Once you have your "poetry reading goggles on" from those other great Christian masters, you'll be opened to the beauty of the psalms. It takes practice.

02.04.2017

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