Deep dive into literary style and language

Deep dive into literary style and language

Literary Style and Language of Genesis 12-25

Narrative framework and storytelling

  • Genesis 12-25 showcases narrative theology, wherein theology is explained through historical stories, emphasising character development and interactions.
  • Utilises repetition and duplicate stories. For example, the wife-sister narrative appears three times.
  • Employs foreshadowing, with the covenant of Abraham and Sarah’s barrenness serving as precursors to later events.

Use of dialogue and direct speeches

  • Genesis incorporates many direct speeches between God and humans, often serving as key plot devices.
  • Layers of dialogue add depth to the narrative and characters, often revealing motive and character traits.
  • The narratives use reported speech, which is significant to Hebrew literature and important for analysis of syntax and forms.

Characterisation and descriptions

  • Genesis employs an indirect method of characterisation, where the behaviours, actions, and words of the characters reveal their traits.
  • Uses of metaphors and similes present in the descriptions of characters and situations. Eg: God is often likened to a shepherd.
  • The characters are often shown dealing with moral and ethical dilemmas, allowing for an exploration of human nature.

Syntax and Semantics

  • The book showcases parallelism, an important feature of Hebrew poetry, often employed within the prose as well.
  • Includes casus pendens or hanging nominative, a stylistic device where a subject is introduced before being defined by a clause.
  • Waw consecutive and waw conjunctions are often used to indicate sequence of actions or continuation of narrative.

Symbolism and imagery

  • Makes heavy use of symbolism. For example, the sacrifice of Isaac is heavily symbolic of the Messianic sacrifice.
  • Genesis 12-25 showcases plenty of pastoral and agricultural imagery, reflecting the cultural context of the time.
  • Religious imagery and symbolism is particularly significant with implications for theology and interpretation.