Announcements of plots in Genesis
The narrative blocks which comprise Genesis are prefaced by statements which suggest ways in which the ensuing stories are likely to develop. This thesis sets out to investigate how these "Announcements" influence their respective plots. In Gen. 1: 28 the primaeval history is introduced by a three-fold imperative. The first part, "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" has some success in exerting its authority but is threatened by several factors. The second, "subdue the earth", is negated. The third, "have dominion over the animals", degenerates into a relationship of mutual hostility. Gen. 12: 1-3 contains two promises and a command. The promises of nationhood and land are threatened throughout the Abraham narrative and by the time of his death Abraham has a single heir and hardly any land. However, by the end of Genesis the ancestral family has grown to seventy people who are multiplying, but outside the land that has been promised to them. The command "be a blessing" makes hardly any impact because neither Abraham nor his descendants seem disposed to obey it. In the Jacob story the Announcement is found in 25: 23 and 27: 27-29, 39-40. Jacob's lordship over Esau is never seen. The promise of fertility/prosperity given to Jacob alone actually comes to both brothers thus negating the intended distinction. The prediction that the two will be divided is "fulfilled" but the expectation of division caused by strife is converted into separation within reconciliation. The two dreams of 37: 5-11 which govern the story of Jacob's family suffer different fates. The first is fulfilled several times but the second has three elements of which the first is fulfilled and the others are not. Unlike many scholars I conclude that Announcements influence their narratives in many different ways and that they are misleading indicators of how plots will develop. The reasons why this may be the case are explored in the Conclusion.