LIFE IN THE SHADOWS: THE ROLE AND FUNCTION OF ISAAC IN GENESIS—SYNCHRONIC AND DIACHRONIC READINGS

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

Arising out of the observation of the seemingly insignificant status of Isaac in the ancestral narrative of Genesis xii-xxxvi, this study explores the role and function of Isaac in Genesis. Two contrastive readings are applied to the Isaac material: one synchronic focussing on the characterisation of Isaac in those episodes in which he appears in the narrative; and a diachronic analysis focussing on the extant Isaac traditions in Genesis xxvi. Both readings support a subordination of Isaac to Abraham, but differ in their understanding of how this subordination takes place. Both readings agree that the outcome of the subordination of Isaac is the transfer of the promises to Isaac, thus providing the basis for the promises to continue into subsequent generations. In becoming the recipient of the promises, Isaac becomes the crucial, proto-typical link between Abraham and the future generations of Israel.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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