The contextual approach and form criticism are two well-established methodologies in Biblical Studies, but the natural affinities between the two have historically gone under-appreciated. Yet the substantial reconsideration of classic tenets of form-criticism that has transpired in recent memory has further separated these two like-minded methods. Through a series of case studies that carefully consider certain Old Testament texts contextually, Silhouettes of Scripture: Considering the Contextual Approach with Form-criticism considers important methodological critiques and fuse elements of both methods in order to not only re-focus natural affinities but also more precisely define how contextual studies could proceed. Initiated by a literary trigger, Schreiner and Holland’s method navigates between what has been called "parallel-o-mania" and "parallel-anonia" to consider a range of similarities and differences in terms of broad and narrow convergences. The result is a work that not only looks upon well-known parallels with fresh eyes but also seeks to establish new trajectories.
David B. Schreiner is associate professor of Old Testament and Associate Dean at Wesley Biblical Seminary.
Drew S. Holland is assistant professor and Program Coordinator of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Tennessee Southern.
Introduction: The Convergence of Form Criticism and the Contextual Approach
Chapter One: The Enuma Elish, the Memphite Theology, and Genesis 1: A Contextual Trialogue
Chapter Two: The Birth Narratives of Sargon, Cyrus, and Moses
Chapter Three: Torn Garments, Mourning, and History: The Historiographical Appropriation of Tearing Garments
Chapter Four: Gilgamesh, Akka, and Rehoboam
Chapter Five: Israel’s Appropriation of the King List Tradition
Chapter Six: A Prototype? Comparing the Letter-prayers of Sin-iddinam and Hezekiah
Chapter Seven: Song of Songs and “Give It Away” as a Study in Contextual Difference
Conclusions and Ways Forward
About the Authors
The comparative method continues to mature and shed greater light as our knowledge and self-awareness increase, and this new volume carries that conversation forward. Students of the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East will benefit from exploring its case studies alongside Schreiner and Holland.
The authors are to be commended for this innovative and thought-provoking approach to comparative work on the Hebrew Bible. Their methodological framework holds theory and practice together by combining the new form criticism with a contextual-comparative approach. The individual case studies demonstrate the value of this approach. This volume is an important resource for all students and scholars investigating the message of the Hebrew Bible in light of its ancient Near Eastern surroundings.
Silhouettes of Scripture contributes to several important, ongoing conversations regarding method in biblical studies, especially comparative method. Illustrating time and again the utility of form criticism and the contextual approach toward an ethical and fruitful comparative process, Holland and Schreiner give their readers much to consider about the place of the Hebrew Bible within the vast body of literature known from the ancient Near East. The essays included in this book provide snapshots of the biblical authors as they interacted with their worlds, giving us a glimpse into the various intellectual processes by which the Bible was composed, written, and compiled over many centuries, making it simultaneously unique among the literatures of the ancient world and at home in its ancient Near Eastern setting.