Meir Sternberg is an Israeli literary critic and biblical scholar. He is Artzt Professor of Poetics and Comparative Literature at Tel Aviv University. Along with Robert Alter and Adele Berlin, Sternberg is one of the most prominent practitioners of a literary approach to the Bible.[1]

Meir Sternberg
Born (1944-10-03) October 3, 1944 (age 75)

Sternberg is best known for his 1985 book The Poetics of Biblical Narrative. Sternberg argues that the Bible is a "foolproof composition": any reader who reads the Bible in "good faith" will get the point of what is written.[2][3][4] He believes the Bible is written by an omniscient narrator, who has had things revealed to him by an omniscient God. Sternberg also makes much of "gaps" in narration, in which the narrator withholds truth in order to generate ambiguity. Finally, he argues that the biblical authors were concerned with three central elements in their narratives: aesthetics, history, and ideology.[5] Jeffrey Staley suggests that, along with Robert Alter, Adele Berlin, and Shimon Bar-Efrat, Sternberg is a master of "leading the reader through the sudden twists and sharp turns, the steep ridges and dizzying drop-offs that make up the art of ancient Hebrew characterization."[6]

Sternberg was the editor of the academic journal Poetics Today from 1994 to 2016. He was awarded the Israel Prize in 1996, for his contributions to literary theory.


  1. ^ Crenshaw, James L. (2004). "Foreword". The Psalms In Israel's Worship. Eerdmans. p. xxx.
  2. ^ Berlin, Adele (2008). "Literary approaches to biblical literature". The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. NYU Press. p. 54. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ Freedman, Amelia Devin (2005). God as an Absent Character in Biblical Hebrew Narrative. p. 17. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. ^ R. Christopher Heard, "Narrative Criticism and the Hebrew Scriptures," Restoration Quarterly 38.1 (1996), 33.
  5. ^ J. Daniel Hays, "An Evangelical Approach to Old Testament Narrative Criticism," Bibliotheca Sacra 166 (2009), 7.
  6. ^ Staley, Jeffrey (2002). Reading with a Passion: Rhetoric, Autobiography, and the American West in the Gospel of John. A&C Black. p. 31. Retrieved 3 April 2016.