Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, & Theological Commentary

By Thomas L. Brodie | Go to book overview

PART ONE

THE TEXT AND ITS IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
(GENESIS-KINGS, “THE PRIMARY HISTORY”)

The Case for Unity, Especially as Dialogical (Diptych-based)

These opening chapters (1–5) focus primarily not on history or theology but on the shape of the text—its structure. Structure is like anatomy. Knowledge of anatomy does not impart healing, but without such knowledge a doctor has little chance of detecting what is happening.

Chapter 1 determines whether the body in question (Genesis) is in fact just one body and not a jumble of bodies or a body that is broken or fractured. The conclusion is as follows: Despite the body's complexity and diversity, it is one. Genesis is a single unified text.

Chapter 2 looks more closely at the nature of that unity, at the diverse structures holding Genesis together. Among these structures the most basic is binary: Genesis often balances two texts or features against one another, thus giving a form of dialogue or diptych.

Chapter 3 investigates the theory or purpose behind such structures, especially behind the dialogue or diptych. The conclusion is that Genesis regards truth itself as in some way dialogical (not monological or simple).

Chapter 4 stands back as it were from the diptych arrangement and tries to reach a clearer sense of its role: Is the diptych arrangement essential or is it just packaging (“redaction”)?

Chapter 5 sets Genesis in the context of the Primary History (Genesis-Kings). Just as there is increasing evidence that Genesis itself is a unity, so also evidence is emerging that the whole of the Primary History is a literary unity. Setting Genesis within GenesisKings is somewhat like setting a person within the context of his or her family. It provides a new way of understanding somebody.

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