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Narratology and NT Narrative Criticism

Narratology and NT Narrative Criticism

Christopher Skinner asks, “Secular Narratology and NT Narrative Criticism: Are They Doing the Same Thing?” Or put differently:

Are scholars working with narratology on secular narratives doing the same thing NT narrative critics are doing (or think they are doing)?

His short answer is

I think we can safely say that there is nothing within narrative-critical circles that approximates what secular literary critics call “narratology.”

He goes on to relay some important critiques of NT narrative criticism which is the meat of the rest of the post.

Back to that original question: I think the answer must be, No, they’re not doing the same thing, yet it is an overstatement to say “nothing within narrative-critical circles … approximates what secular literary critics call ‘narratology’.”

Narratology grew up on the same playground as literary criticism in the 1960s and 70s, had a growth spurt in the 80s, but during this time began to go in many different directions. Those practicing narratology today disagree about what it is, but it at least involves the study of narrativity (which, while there is disagreement on the scope of narrativity, at least includes narrative texts).

So I think narratology is broad enough to encompass literary criticism, including the more traditional forms of biblical narrative criticism, though it extends to theoretical questions of narrativity and, for many practitioners, pulls from a plethora of other theoretical frameworks to study its objects. Even if this is so, Chris raises some other important points in his post.

For reference, see the Narratologia series from De Gruyter, and especially vols. 1 and 6 to start.

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