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Robert Alter

An Agenda for a New Kind of Literary Study of the Bible

The literary study of the Bible may for some seem to be what philosophers would call a category error. The Bible, according to this common though imprecise understanding, is a set of religious texts. Its purpose is to convey a vision of how God created the world, of his designs for the historical destiny of humankind, including a special account of his covenanted people, and to set forth in forceful terms the moral and ritual obligations that the readers of these texts through the generations are expected to fulfill. What, then, could all this have to do with literature?

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