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Indian Poetics (Kāvya Śāstra) and Narratology Towards the Appreciation of Biblical Narrative


G. Ayyaneth

Though the biblical and the Indian literary traditions had independent origin and growth in terms of spatial and cultural milieux, there are literary landscapes of confluence where the literary fabrics of their collective wisdom are interwoven. Both narrative traditions have rich oral and folk prehistoric traditions in their records and this attribute provides a substratum where their narrative patterns and paradigms can find a common ground. A Hebraic reading of the Bible does not exhaust the meaning of the biblical texts; on the other hand, an Indian reading of the Bible could bring more flesh and blood to the living text. Ancient Indian Kāvya Śāstra (Poetics) and its modern rendering narratology being multifarious and mutually integrative will be able to supply a variety of poetical tools and devices with which the great and vast miscellany of biblical narrative can be approached and appreciated. Indian religious tradition is more narrative/story rather than doctrinal or dogmatic. This demands an Indian reading of the Bible endowed with a narratological and synchronic approach to disentangle the biblical narrative from the burden of dogmas and doctrines and to re-launch its primordial narrative/story culture. The application of the canons of Indian Kāvya Śāstra with its narratological elucidations to the biblical narrative has categorically proved that it can open up a new horizon to an Indian reading of the Bible. Various such narrative approaches, heuristic devices and models thus evolved have been applied to selected narratives in the Davidic Episode of the Books of Samuel.

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for Indian Poetics (Kāvya Śāstra) and Narratology Towards the Appreciation of Biblical Narrative

“I really found G. Ayyaneth’s insights helpful and very full of interesting suggestions for further reflection. It fits closely with my background in literary criticism and theory, and does in fact seem to open up interesting new vistas, not only for Indians but for all of us in reading the Bible. One of the most stimulating and original things I have found in quite a while.”

David Fleming, S.M., University of Dayton, Ohio, USA

“Whoever has seen films produced in India will know that the narration is sometimes interrupted by dancing and singing. This phenomenon resembles the way the Books of Samuel are interwoven with poems or songs such as the song of Hannah or the last words of David. Western narratology is heavily influenced by Aristotle’s Poetics. However there were stories being told before the lifetime of this Greek philosopher and outside his European culture. G. Ayyaneth presents the rich Indian literary theory and shows convincingly that it offers an interpretative key for the juxtaposition of storytelling and singing in the Hebrew Bible.”

Hans Ulrich Steymans, O.P., Professor (OT) and Dean of the Faculty of Theology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

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