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Interludes and Irony in the Ancestral Narrative

Kruschwitz, Jonathan A (2014) Interludes and Irony in the Ancestral Narrative. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The strange stories of Hagar, Dinah, and Tamar unsettle the ancestral narrative in Genesis. Whereas the ancestral narrative revolves around the interests of the ancestral family, these stories deviate from the main plot and draw attention to the interests of non- ancestral characters. Interpretation traditionally domesticates the strange stories by focusing on how they may serve the purposes of the embedding ancestral narrative. This thesis, however, revives the question of their strangeness and proposes an original response: the strange stories are interludes that ironize ancestral identity. The concepts of interlude and irony lay the methodological groundwork for this thesis. Because scholarship commonly identifies the strange stories as “interludes,” this study innovates a poetics of the interlude. This poetics, which derives from the model of certain musical interludes, suggests that the interlude’s function is to develop primary thematic content. While scholarship conventionally allows the primary narrative to determine the significance of the interlude, this poetics illumines how the interlude may determine aspects of the primary narrative. A hermeneutics of irony, in turn, offers a persuasive account of how an interlude may develop primary thematic material. This study bases its hermeneutics on the idea that irony consists in quoting a prior proposition and implying a negative judgment toward it. When the interludes invoke central ancestral motifs, they may mean something different—even contrary—to what was meant before. A poetics of the interlude and a hermeneutics of irony drive this study’s close readings of the strange stories. The close readings demonstrate how the interludes ironize key themes of ancestral identity: the ancestral-divine relationship, ancestral relations to the land and its inhabitants, and ancestral self-identity. Each interlude subverts the conventionally exclusive formulation of an ancestral theme and shows that, while ancestral identity may be contained in the ancestral family, it is not contained by it.

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.655282
Depositing User: Jonathan Kruschwitz
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 11:43
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9320

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