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Literary Interpretation of the Bible

This guide contains resources and finding aids on the application of literary theory to the interpretation of the Bible.


In the last half-century, biblical scholars have begun experimenting with literary theory as a method for interpretation. The tools of literary analysis provoke readers of the Bible to engage in new ways of reading. These scholars seek to go beyond the focus of historical-critical interpretation by paying closer attention to the literary artistry that is inherent in the Bible.

Though the field remains somewhat nascent, many "standard" books and scholars have emerged. As with all academic genres, the range of literary interpretations of the Bible are vast and only partially congruent with one another. This is a finding aid and recommendation of major resources.

Finding Aids

LC Call Number Ranges - Use these to browse the shelves for books on the topic.

BS 535 - The Bible as Literature

BS 1171.2 - Old Testament - Language, Style

BS 2370 - New Testament - Rhetoric

Search Terms - Use these search terms to find resources.

Bible as Literature

Narration in the Bible

For Journal Articles in the ATLA Database:

Old Testament--Criticism, Literary

New Testament--Criticism, Literary

Commentary Series

Berit Olam (Hebrew Bible) / Sacra Pagina (New Testament)

  • This series focuses on the final form of the texts (canonical criticism), with a special interest in matters relating to literary interpretation. It works extremely well as a complement to a series with different critical or disciplinary approaches. Classified Individually by Book of the Bible.

Reading the Old Testament / Reading the New Testament

  • This series similarly focuses on the final form of the text, not on word-by-word or verse-by-verse exegesis. By interpreting the text in larger units of material, the scholars here provide resources for both literary and theological interpretation of the Bible.

Recommended Books