Reading the Bible as Literature: Two Questions for Biblical Critics
In biblical studies, for various reasons, a historical' approach having some affinities with the Romantic style of secular criticism has reigned supreme for nearly two hundred years. Neither a biblical nor a literary critic is faced with any great problems in opting for the non-historical approach, and seeking to explicate a text by examining its internal relations and structures. Classical or Romantic theories of literature appear at face value to be competing statements of the kinds of meaning it is possible for a work of literature any work to express. Aesthetic theories, and especially theories of literature, usually exhibit a strange paradox. The most obvious case in the Old Testament of texts that either had no authors, in the ordinary sense or whose authors were largely reworking traditional material and writing to a formula is the Psalms. Andrew Louth, in his book discerning the Mystery, rightly identifies the psalter as a problem for traditional, author-centred historical criticism.