Monday, June 13, 2011

Robert Alter on continuity in Genesis

In response to scholarly descriptions of the story of Judah and Tamar as "a completely independent unit...[having] no connection with the drama of Joseph, which it interrupts...", Robert Alter employs literary analysis to craft a compelling argument for a strong connection between the two stories. Among numerous points made in the opening chapter to his The Art of Biblical Narrative, I found the following:
It is instructive that the two verbal cues indicating the connection between the story of the selling of Joseph and the story of Tamar and Judah were duly noted more than 1500 years ago in the Midrash: "The Holy One Praised be He said to Judah, 'You deceived your faith with a kid. By your life, Tamar will deceive you with a kid.' . . . The Holy One Praised be He said to Judah, 'You said to your father, haker-na.  By your life, Tamar will say to you, haker-na' " (Bereshit Rabba 84:11,12).

No comments: