The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings

By Herbert Chanan Brichto | Go to book overview

SEVEN
STRUCTURES AS A BIBLICAL
LITERARY PHENOMENON

The division of this book into two sections, one on stories and one on structures, is both occasioned by and reflective of the uniqueness of Scripture (in general, and of Genesis or the Pentateuch in particular) in respect to the question of literary genre.

Genre is a matter of classification, and classification is a highly subjective human organization of its perceptions. Every system of classification is assessable, not in terms of true or false or valid or invalid, but rather in terms of usefulness or idleness, weightiness or frivolity. Thus one broad literary distinction is that between prose and poetry, a classification so obvious that to refer to them as genres verges on the pedantic, and makes for the ridicule of Moliere's newly arrived gentleman who is thrilled to discover that all his life he has been talking prose. Another broad literary distinction not normally considered as genre- distinction is that between history and fiction; fiction itself almost preempting title to constituting literature, and history being promoted to a transcendent class of narrative; the former creative and entertaining, the latter verisimilitudinous and edifying, the former a tolerable recreation, the latter the sober pursuit of savants and scientists. Thus, whereas maps and charts and graphs and statistical tables are seen as indigenous to history writing, the appearance of such in the text of a creative narrative would be regarded as literary excrescence, or indeed be read as a purport of historiographic rather than fictive authorial intent.

Such indeed has been the case in regard to Scriptural narrative. The interpolations of genealogies and chronologies in particular, inclusive of toponyms and eth

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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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