Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Alan Cooper
The Abraham narrative (Gen 11:27-25:11) has long been approaches history, or as a source for history, whether of actual events, or of Israelite literature, religion, and theology. With the development of the modern principles of historical enquiry, biblical scholars felt the need to examine critically the historical veracity of the biblical text. Critics noted many textual features, which, from such a perspective, they interpreted as indications that the text was not a single, continuous account, but an assemblage of numerous earlier traditions. For the sake of historical honesty, and in search of historical knowledge, higher critics turned their attention to identifying and isolating these various sources.
Since the early 1960s, the historico-critical perspective has gradually been yielding to a literary-critical view of the Bible which is far more sympathetic to the integrity of the received text. From the new perspective, and in the light of recent developments in literary theory, it is possible to discern the equivocal character of the evidence higher critics advance in support of their hypotheses. The same data which seem so compelling for higher-critical reading also serve the radically different ends of a holistic literary-critical approach. The fact that the text (like any text) has a history is never denied, but it is irrelevant to the new approach.
This thesis offers a description of the plot of the Abraham narrative, accompanied by a detailed analysis of the first half of the narrative (11:27-17:27). The thesis concentrates on those features of the narrative which are crucial for understanding the text's structure, for example, key-word., repetition, anticipation, and defeated expectation, to mention but a few. The methodology employed is rooted in close reading, but with special attention to recent reader-response criticism (e.g. M. Perry, W. Iser, and U. Eco). Such an approach concentrates on the Iiterary details and techniques of the narrative, and on the way in which they guide the reader's actualisation of the text. It is argued that the kind of description undertaken here is the prerequisite for evaluation of the text as literature, history, or theology.
DeRoche, Michael Paul, "The Dynamics of Promise: Narrative Logic in the Abraham Story" (1986). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1150.