Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 530
It would be difficult, then, to imagine styles more contrasted than those of these two equally ancient and equally epic texts. On the one hand, externalized, uniformly illuminated phenomena, at a definite time and in a definite place, connected together without lacunae in a perpetual foreground; thoughts and feeling completely expressed; events taking place in leisurely fashion and with very little of suspense.
Auberbach opens his book contrasting the way reality is represented in Homer's Odyssey and in the Bible. Auberbach contends that each representation of reality reflects how the two different societies—Greek and Hebrew—viewed the world. As he notes in the quote above, the Greeks were concerned with external descriptions of reality that placed people concretely in a particular setting at a particular time. Thoughts and feelings were articulated fully through external dialogue. We learn the inside through the outside. Homer has no interest in keeping his audience in suspense.
On the other hand, the externalization of only so much of the phenomena as is necessary for the purpose of the narrative, all else left in obscurity; the decisive points of the narrative alone are emphasized, what lies between is nonexistent; time and place are undefined and call for interpretation; thoughts and feeling remain unexpressed, are only suggested by the silence and the fragmentary speeches; the whole, permeated with the most unrelieved suspense and directed toward a single goal ...
Looking at the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, Auberbach highlights the differences between it and Homer's style of presenting reality. The Bible, Auerbach argues, does very little to place us in space or time, emphasizes only the highlights of a story without the digressions of a Homeric epic, and gives us only fragments of information, leaving us in great suspense.
The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us—they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels.
Auberbach makes the point that the...
(The entire section contains 530 words.)
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