This work is a perfectly serviceable introduction to the topic stated in the title. This is the sort of book that any first-year seminary student should have under his belt, actually. I guess I'm catching up.

He begins with theory, discussing author-centered, text-centered, and reader-centered approaches to interpretation. All the big names are mentioned, from Hermann Gunkel to Stanley Fish (aka Mr. The Text Only Means What The Reader Decides It Means!). After a brief discussion of the pitfalls and payoffs to such approaches, and of the functions of Biblical literature (historical, theological, doxological, didactic, aesthetic, etc.), Longman applies the tools he's discussed to the two most prominent types of Biblical literature: prose and verse.

Concerning prose, Longman covers genre and genre determination, the dynamics of a piece of literature (author/reader; narrator/narratee, etc.), point of view, character development, plot, setting, repetition, omission, irony, and dialogue. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but a solid introduction. The texts he applies these fundamentals to are 1 Kings 22 and Acts 10:1-11:18.

Longman discusses verse in a similar manner. Hebrew verse is marked by terseness, parallelism, and imagery, and perhaps meter (this is highly debated). Texts examined in some detail include Exodus 15, Song of Solomon 5:10-16, Psalm 51, Micah 4:25, and Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

This series, of which I've read several and will read at least one more), is superb. I've enjoyed them all. They were done 30 years ago, and I think the church could benefit from a refresh of the series, as the series refreshes any interested Biblical reader.