Inherent in every story is a view of death that reflects the human struggle of ending well, a Freudian thanatos inscribed within narrative. As a story draws to a close, the view of death found within the structure of the story's narrative will influence the ending that is produced. To examine the view of death and the closing strategies employed within a narrative, this study proposes a literary category called narrative mortality. Narrative mortality compares the degree of finality given to death with the amount of closure the reader experiences within the narrative. The narrative mortality of three differing biblical stories are studied within this work: The Gospel of John, the Book of Job, and the Book of Jonah. Each story employs a differing rhetorical strategy that reflects its own unique view of death and narrative closure.
The Author: Walter B. Crouch is Assistant Professor of Religion at Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee. He received his Ph.D. in religion from Baylor University, and taught biblical languages there at the George W. Truett Seminary. He is widely published in journals and magazines and has professionally presented numerous papers on the relationship of death and the narrative structures of biblical story.