The New Historicism
in Guides to Biblical Scholarship
Publisher Fortress Press
New Historicism has been a highly controversial and influential movement in university literature departments for almost twenty years. Biblical studies now wrestles with this force and evaluates its potential for interpretation. With lucid and jargon-free description, this study sets forth New Historicism for the nonspecialist. Defining New Historicism as a mindset rather than a method, it traces the development, discusses recurring features, and offers illustrations of this new literary approach. Here biblical texts are plunged back into the swirling currents of historical context only to disclose their plural, contradictory, fragmentary, and heterogeneous character. This includes the histories associated, represented, and embedded in those texts. In the process, the carefully guarded distinctions between text and context, history and literature, past and present, fade. In exchange for the loss of these tidy categories, New Historicism promises sufficient compensation—namely, a potential venue where the sharply drawn border currently separating historical investigations from literary studies in biblical interpretation can be negotiated.