Lecture 6 - Biblical Narrative: The Stories of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-36)

author: Christine Hayes, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University
published: Feb. 16, 2011,   recorded: September 2006,   views: 5687

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This lecture continues with a review of scholarly views on the historical accuracy of the Bible. The narratives of the patriarchs and matriarchs are introduced and the covenant between Abraham and God--which ultimately leads to the formation of a nation--is explained. Central themes of the patriarchal stories include: God's call to Abraham, God's promise of a blessed and fruitful nation, threats to this promise (including the story of the binding of Isaac for sacrifice). Finally, after a significant character transformation, the third patriarch Jacob becomes Yisrael ("he who struggles with God").

Reading assignment:

Bible: (1) Gen 12-Ex 4; Introduction to Exodus (JSB pp. 102-107) (2) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2048-2052) (3) "Inner-Biblical Interpretation" (JSB pp. 1829-1835)

Optional: Goldstein, Rebecca. "Looking Back at Lot's Wife." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 3-12

For Section Discussion: (1) Gen 22 (2) Auerbach, Eric. "Odysseus' Scar," In Mimesis. pp. 1-26 (3) Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative, New York: Basic Books, 1981. pp. 3-22, 47-62, 178-189 (4) Greenstein, Edward L. and Alex Preminger, eds. "The Binding of Isaac." In The Hebrew Bible in Literary Criticism. New York: Unger, 1986. pp. 261-270

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