Genesis Overview: Patriarchal History, Overview

"... the story of each patriarch (with the exception of Isaac), is itself filled with suspense because of a great display of divine promises and fulfilments. This expansion of the patriarchal stories into such a surcharged narrative is the product of long work of collecting and even more of superior art in theological composition." (p164). Rhetorically, VR says, the variety of traditions did not come together by themselves!

Thus, the expositor must: explain each individual narrative for itself; and put it into the wider context of a great thread. He must comment, where possible on its pre J and E form. Redactors  were conservative and gave themselves very limited freedom, so although major internal changes took place, external changes were rare. Of special interest are the bridging passages between older material, giving the redactor the opportunity to articulate theologically, cf 6.5-8.

12.1-9: God's promise to Abraham renewed for each patriarch (cf. 13.14-16; 15.5,7,18;18.10;22.17;26.24;28.3,13-15;32.12;35.9-12;4816) but never as fully. The figure of God shifts from blessing and curse in a cultic framework to being a beneficial or destructive force in history. The traditional coupling of posterity and land, de-coupled here to test Abraham who is brought into a completely unexplained relationship with the Canaanites. J leads Abraham from promise to waste land.

KC V/14

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