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Liberating Esau : a corrective reading of the Esau-Jacob narrative in Genesis 25-36.

Chung, Il-Seung (2008) Liberating Esau : a corrective reading of the Esau-Jacob narrative in Genesis 25-36. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The purpose of the present study is to examine the characterisation of Esau in the book of Genesis and offer a favourable reading of the Esau story as a corrective to the usual negative readings. Traditional interpretations of Esau in Jewish and early Christian literature have provided a negative image or portrayal of Esau which contemporary Genesis commentators in their turn draw on to interpret Esau as cruel, stupid, and impulsive, having no concern for the family tradition or the future legacy. The present study revisits these negative perceptions of Esau and rereads the texts according to the sequence of the Jacob-Esau narrative. The present study intends to counterbalance this generally hostile view of Esau by emphasising the full potential in Genesis for a positive and favourable reading of Esau by examining a series of textual cruxes. Where more positive readings of Esau are suggested, this is not necessarily a claim that such readings are to be adopted, but rather to demonstrate that the negative interpretations are not the only option. Negative interpretations of Esau do not originate from the depiction of Esau in Genesis itself but are derived from the biases against Esau of a succession of later interpreters. The negative image of Esau in the text of Genesis itself is demonstrably less strong than that of contemporary Genesis commentaries. After the careful scrutiny of the Jacob-Esau narrative, other biblical texts which deal with Esau, and representative commentaries, it is concluded that the Genesis narrator has characterised Esau as a favourable and honourable character. Genesis commentators have obscured this with their negative assumptions about Esau, influenced by their focus on Jacob the chosen one.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Biblical Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.490324
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 13:28
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2019 13:28
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21815

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