Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions: Comparative Studies on Narratives in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible

Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions: Comparative Studies on Narratives in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible

Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions: Comparative Studies on Narratives in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible

Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions: Comparative Studies on Narratives in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible

Synopsis

This book compares a variety of biblical narratives with the stories found in several Northwest Semitic inscriptions from the ancient kingdom of Judah and its contemporary Syro-Palestinian neighbors. In genre, language, and cultural context, these epigraphic stories are closer to biblical narratives than any other ancient Near Eastern narrative corpus. For the first time, Parker analyzes and appreciates these stories as narratives and sets them beside comparable biblical stories. He illuminates the narrative character and techniques of both epigraphic and biblical stories and in many cases reveals their original social context and purpose. In some cases, he is able to shed light on the question of the sources and composition of the larger work in which most of the biblical stories appear, the Deuteronomistic history. Against the claim that the genius of biblical prose narrative derives from the monotheism of the authors, he shows that the presence or absence of a divine role in each type of story is consistent throughout both biblical and epigraphic examples, and that, when present, the role of the deity is essentially the same both inside and outside the Bible, inside and outside Israel.

Excerpt

While each of the preceding chapters may be read as a separate study, together they shed light on three general topics. This comparison of epigraphic and biblical narratives contributes to our appreciation of the literary character of each; to our reconstruction of the transmission of certain stories and types of stories; and to our recognition of the role of the deity in different kinds of stories. This concluding chapter addresses these three topics in turn.

The Literary Character of the Stories

In the case of the petitionary narrative, it was possible to define a narrative genre on the basis of its social setting (it is recounted by a person in need to an authority with the power to address the need), purpose (to persuade the authority to intervene in the speaker's favor), and certain narratological features (the narrator is the central character, the story is told from that persons point of view, the plot takes him or her into a dire situation, at which point the narrative ends). Examples of this genre in the Bible, though written, disclose that such petitionary narratives were always oral products, hence the extraordinary written form of the field-worker's petition in the Mesad Hashavyahu inscription must be the consequence of the inaccessibility of the officer in question. This inscription is, nevertheless, a record of a real petition to a local authority. the Bible preserves several literary versions of the genre, some adapted with considerable sophistication and . . .

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