The Plot-structure of Genesis

‘Will the Righteous Seed Survive?’ in the Muthos-logical Movement from Complication to Dénouement


In The Plot-structure of Genesis Todd L. Patterson argues that Genesis is organized by a development from complication to dénouement. The question 'Will the righteous seed survive?' drives the narrative to climax. Gen 4 sets up the complication. Cain and Abel are the seed of the woman who should lead humanity back to God's creation-sanctuary. Because Cain does not master sin, his unrighteousness threatens the survival of the seed. Each narrative tôlĕdôt division develops this theme until dénouement in the Joseph narrative when God ensures the survival of the promised seed.

By showing how plot integrates with the widely recognized tôlĕdôt structure, prominent motifs, and enigmatic features of the text, Todd L. Patterson provides a surprisingly novel interpretation of Genesis.
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Biographical Note

Todd L. Patterson, Ph.D. (2012), Trinity International University, is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction: The Story of Plot and the Book of Genesis
 The Story of Plot
 The Moral of the Story of Plot
 Two Criteria for Assessing Plot-structure
 The Plot of Genesis
 What is Righteousness?

2 A Muthos-logical Reading Strategy for Genesis
 The Tôlĕdôt Headings and the Plot-structure of Genesis
 Thomas’ Ready-made Solution? The Influence of Genealogy on the Macrostructure of the Text
 Steinberg, Tengström, and Koch and the Genealogico-narrative Arrangement of Genesis
 A Suggested Macrostructure for the Book of Genesis
 A Summary of the Approach

3 In the Beginning: The Return to God’s Creation-sanctuary
 Genesis 1: The Sanctuary as the Controlling Metaphor for Creation
 Genesis 2–3: Can Humanity Return to God’s Creation-sanctuary?
 Comparing and Contrasting Genesis 3–4: Delineating Two Lines of Seed
 Summary: The Complication that Drives the Narrative

4 The Noah Plexus: The Undoing of the Undoing of Creation
 The Structure of the Narrative
 The Creation Allusions in the Flood Narrative
 Parallels in ANE Literature
 A Thinking Together of the Flood Narrative
 The Shem, Ham and Japheth tôlĕdôt
 The Noah Plexus Summary

5 The Terah Plexus: Testing the Righteousness of Abraham
 The Structure of the Narrative
 Enigmatic Features of the Terah Tôlĕdôt Strand
 Abraham as the Promised, Righteous Seed
 Who is the Heir? The High Point of Confusion is the Turning Point of the Narrative
 Abraham’s Lack of Righteousness Threatens the Survival of the Seed
 Confluence of the Righteousness and Seed Motifs and the Climax of the Plot
 The Terah Plexus Summary

6 The Isaac Plexus: Whatever Happened to the Righteousness of the Seed?
 The Structure of the Narrative
 The Development of the Plot of the Isaac Tôlĕdôt
 The Isaac Plexus Summary

7 The Jacob Plexus and Dénouement: God Will Ensure the Righteousness and Survival of the Seed
 The Structure of the Narrative
 Identifying the Plot of the Narrative: Cain and Abel Redivivus

8 Conclusion: Plot-structure in Genesis and Beyond
 The Paradigm Shift of Muthos-logical Reading
 Evaluating the Plot-structure with Two Control Questions
 The Implications of Plot-structure in Genesis and Beyond



All interested in literary interpretation and the plot-structure of the book of Genesis as well as plot as the organizing principle of narrative and biblical theology.