The theme(s) of the Joseph story : a literary analysis
Since the 1970s the application of narrative analysis to the Joseph Story has enriched its reading. But those who apply this method to the narrative produce significantly different results in terms of what its theme is. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the reasons for this and to articulate as objectively as possible the theme of the Joseph Story. Chapter One establishes the context of this investigation by evaluating the major narrative readings of the Joseph Story. It reveals that those who apply narrative methodologies to the story come to different conclusions about what its theme is. It notes that the different results could be due to different narrative approaches, the literary context of the narrative, and the complex nature of the text itself. We choose Humphreys, Longacre, and Turner as our dialogue partners because they represent different narrative methods of reading the Joseph Story. The reference terms `narrative criticism' and `theme' are then defined. Chapter Two argues that the way to overcome the confusion concerning the theme (s) of the Joseph Story is to use a methodology that addresses the limitations of the literary approaches applied to the narrative and takes note of the wider literary context of Genesis and the rich nature of the text. This chapter then proposes a narrative methodology of `triangulation' that comprises plot analysis, text-linguistics and poetics. Chapters three, four and five apply this methodology to the entire narrative in Genesis 37-50 via a detailed analysis of Genesis 37,44-45, and 49-50, the beginning, middle and end of the narrative, respectively. The motifs that emerge from our analysis are family breakdown, power, providence, blessing, and land. Chapter six concludes that each of these motifs is a key concern of the Joseph Story but none by itself adequately articulates the story's theme. It is the ecology of these motifs that enunciates the theme: God's providential work with and through Jacob's dysfunctional family, preserving it and blessing others.