Genesis Overview: Epilogue to the Joseph Story

The Joseph story is an organic novella not a saga based on location. It is not an historical biography but it does display a detailed knowledge, from the Solomonic period, of Egypt. Joseph is a highly educated court official in the wisdom tradition. This is also reflected in the morality, the warning against "strange women", cf. Proverbs 2.16, 5.3, 20, 6.24, 22.14, 23.7. It is similar to the Daniel story except that Daniel kept the faith, although Joseph's actual fidelity is never doubted. Joseph deals with his brothers severely and boldly but with no retribution.

The story rarely speaks directly of God and faith, even though it recognises a divine charisma in Joseph. But in 45.5-7 and 50.20 f.: "Both texts point to God's saving rule, which is concealed in profound worldliness. This rule of God for the salvation of men continuously permeates all realms of life and includes even man's evil by making the plans of the human heart serve divine purposes, without hindering them or excusing them. The human heart is therefore the principal realm of God's providential and guiding activity." (p438). The wisdom theme is also reflected in there being no moral pathos or passion.

As with wisdom literature, faith is detached from covenant theology, from all sacred history but the story is woven into the patriarchal promise, cf. 46.1-5, 50.20, 24.

KC VI/14

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