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Title: Voices by the sea : a dialogic reading of the Exodus narrative
Author: Li, Kwan Hung Leo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 4376
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
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It is known that the biblical account of Israel’s past consists of diverse generic, thematic and ideological elements, between which inconsistencies and tensions sometimes arise. This phenomenon is defined as ‘scriptural complexity’. From early times this complexity has been treated by source or redaction criticism; currently, canonical-theological and literary approaches are employed. This thesis adopts a Bakhtinian ‘dialogic’ approach to languages and literary voice, to study the ‘scriptural complexity’ in the book of Exodus, especially the narrative in chaps. 12-14 and the inserted song in chap. 15. After introducing the ‘scriptural complexity’ and the possible methods of dealing with it (Chapter 1), and the life and the concept of dialogism of Bakhtin (Chapter 2), the Bakhtinian concepts will be adopted and applied to the book of Exodus. A survey of the voices of the ‘speaking person’ in the book will be conducted, and the Passover instructions in Exodus 12 will be used as a test case to illustrate what results from a dialogic reading of the biblical text (Chapter 3). Based on this, a dialogic reading of the narrative of the Israelites crossing the Sea (Chapter 4) and the Song of the Sea (Chapter 5) will be performed. The voice of the narrator in the narrative of the Israelites’ crossing of the Sea will also be studied (Chapter 6). The reading shows that several different ‘voices’ are involved in the transmission of the tradition, and these represent a dialogue between different possible ideologies. This dialogue re-accentuates the authoritative voice of YHWH such that it allows later generations to participate truly and dialogically in the observance of the traditions. Exploring the multiple and complex dialogic relationships between the various voices indicates that the narrative in the Exodus events foregrounds the characters’ voices, and allows them to interact dialogically. It results in an enriched and multilayered understanding of the role of each ‘voice’ in the story. The exploration of the dialogic relationship between the singing voices of the inserted song and the narrative voices also enables the reader to understand and respond to the implicit significance of YHWH’s action in the narrative. Analysis of the Bakhtinian concept of ‘authoring’ also suggests that the narrator’s voice represents the authorial voice of the biblical narrative. By bestowing form to the verbal material, this authorial voice leads the reader to participate in a dialogue between the various voices and to co-author the values and significance according to various ‘dialogizing backgrounds’. This thesis argues that it is beneficial to read the biblical discourse as utterance with ‘voices’ rather than mere text, so that the reader can re-enter the once uttered discourse and participate in a living dialogue through the ‘scriptural complexity’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available