Whom to Believe?
UNTIL NOW I HAVE REFERRED TO THE NARRATOR of the biblical story with unquestioning respect, implying that whatever the narrator says must be so. The previous chapter, dealing with the favorable characterization of Judah in the Book of Genesis, concluded with the statement that the narrator, at any rate, sought to protect Judah’s reputation, and God, who rewarded him, seemed to think so, too. This implies that the narrator and God are the benchmarks of reliability and of the story’s verisimilitude. Now we must ask how the positions of the narrator and God’s reliability affect our understanding of the story.
The biblical authors present their stories as a meaningful history from which the readers must draw a moral. They tell us that certain things happened, and it is reasonable to assume that they want us to believe them and accept them as truth. I do not propose to tackle the question of whether the events described in these stories actually took place, since such a question is either a mattet of faith or of examining the texts with the tools of the discipline of history, neither of which concerns us here. My point of