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Introduction

A repeated plea in recent biblical study has been that the critics have taken the Bible away from the Church and ought to be made to give it back a programme summed up in the title of a collection edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, Reclaiming the Bible for the Church. There is a dichotomy between biblical criticism as practised under the banner of historical-critical method' and the newer literary' approaches that have been making themselves felt since the rise of structuralist approaches in the 1960s and 1970s This is generally assumed to be the case. There are traditionalist historical critics' for whom the very word literature' in a biblical studies article is a sign that an enemy is present, while words such as deconstruction' or postmodernism' immediately provoke fight or flight mechanisms. On the other hand, there are literary' critics for whom anything remotely diachronic belongs to a critical Dark Age.