The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings

By Herbert Chanan Brichto | Go to book overview

SIX
EVENTS IN THE LIFE
OF ABRAHAM

ABRAM THE NOBLE WARRIOR

Biblical discourse is discursive (and it is so to a remarkable degree). What keeps the first clause of this sentence from constituting a tautology is the odd difference in the nuances of the noun and adjective. Whereas the running to and fro (of the original and literal Latin) conveys in the noun the sense of logical and consecutive speech or thought, in the adjective there is a strong sense of discontinuity or digression. One exemplary aspect of the discursiveness of biblical discourse is reflected in the "stories and structures" in this volume's subtitle. There are many other aspects of this (literary) phenomenon in addition to alternation of forms and genres, such as perspectival shifts in consecutive narratives hingeing on changes in identities of implied author, more-or-less reliable or omniscient narrator, and variably sophisticated implied audience.

Genesis 12-15, the first four chapters centered on the patriarch Abram, present several examples of thematic continuity interrupted by generally inapposite narratives, which could with artistic benefit have been inserted elsewhere in the chronicle of the patriarch's career. One can readily see, therefore, how inviting this would be to source criticism (or any genetic approach to the text that is undisturbed by the intervention of the incompetent editor), and--at the opposite pole--how challenging to a poetic reading (which cannot by its nature concede incapacity or inadvertence on the part of either editor or author). The way of the

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The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One the Names of God - The Problem: a Preliminary Review 3
  • Part I Stories-- "The Primeval History" 35
  • Two the Creation Story in Genesis, Ch. 1:1-2 37
  • Three Eden and Eden's Aftermath 71
  • Four the Floods of Noah and Utnapishtim - Theology Straight and Theology Satiric 111
  • Five from Noah to Abram 167
  • Six Events in the Life of Abraham 186
  • Part II Structures 299
  • Seven Structures as a Biblical Literary Phenomenon 301
  • Supplements, Conclusions, Anticipations 387
  • Eight Poetical Odds and Addends 389
  • Afterword 435
  • Notes 436
  • Selected Bibliography 458
  • Index 460
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