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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 213 Reviews READING THE FRACTURES OF GENESIS: HISTORICAL AND LITERARY APPROACHES. By David M. Carr. pp. x + 388. Louisville, KY: Wesnninster John Knox Press, 1996. Cloth, $39.00. Much contemporary exegesis of biblical texts can be clearly divided into diachronic or synchronic approaches: analyses that either examine the history of the transmission of the text or regard the text as a literary artifact to be examined as it stands. David Carr's aim in this book is to demonstrate how the two approaches can inform one another. He uses Genesis as a paradigm text. Carr recognizes that the exegetical divergence is geographical as well as methodological: transmission history has been largely European, and literary studies (which include many recent aspects) have been current in America. As a result, Carr's extensive acknowledgments of the past scholars , upon whose work his own historical analysis stands, largely cites German authors, in particular, E. Blum, Die Komposition der Vaetergeschichte (1984). And, though the title claims "Historical and Literary Approaches" as a sub-title, the majority of the book is devoted to Carr's historical reading. Only on the basis of this thoroughly-developed argument does Carr proceed to illustrate how his readings of "fractures" offer new insights to literary exegesis. In an early chapter on methodology, Carr identifies different indicators of seams in ancient Near-Eastern narratives analogous with those of the Bible: "breaks in narrative continuity, contradictions, and doubletsparticularly resumptive repetition" (p. 30). Furthermore, terminological, ideological, and structural shifts may confirm that the narrative indicators are significant as transmission history when these seams and shifts correlate . In his investigation of the transmission history of Genesis, Carr proceeds from the most recent written stages, which are easier to reconstruct , to the earlier, more difficult layers. giving limited consideration to the indisputable but unreconstructable oral complement to written texts. Carr selects texts for discussion according to the availability of clues. The first significant clues to Priestly material happen to be in the primeval history which opens Genesis. particularly in the genealogical and promisecovenant themes. Because the flood account is "dense with doublets and breaks" and has been the subject of abundant discussion of the formation of the Pentateuch. Carr reviews critical models for the formation of this text. In his predecessors' work. Carr finds a lack of consensus and no adequate account for the fundamentally doubled character of the text (p. 49). He of- Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 214 Reviews fers that the present text "is the result of an author/redactor's careful interweaving of large parts of originally separate sources into a new whole" (p. 50). He supports his position by detailed examination and comparison of passages describing the same (or similar) event. He ascribes P to passages characteristic of Priestly texts throughout the Pentateuch, and simply non-P to the other strand of text, eliminating the problems arising from the "fluid divisions" between Jahwistic and Elohistic non-Priestly materials (p. 147). Thus, Carr posits P and non-P texts as the sources with which a priestly redactor, (Rp), shaped the present text of Genesis. This redactor, Carr suggests , had both the non-P and the P accounts before him. Working from both, the redactor intervened "in a non-P context to conform it to P models " (p. 58). Because the framework is non-P, P is dependent upon the non-P material. Instead of eliminating redundant passages, the redactor who combined the strands developed the parallelism between the strands. Carr moves through the Creation-Flood text, seeking correspondences between parallel strands of text, identifying the characteristics of P and non-P texts, and presenting the contrasts between the P and non-P versions of a given narrative strand. This transmission-historical picture of Genesis is developed in the succeeding chapters, as Carr explores the role of P in the balance of the Genesis text and offers "Concluding Reflections on the Priestly Materials." When he considers the nature of the "reconstructed P document," Carr suggests P "represents a major reconceptualization of non-P traditions" (p. 127) even though the texts are remarkably parallel. In the concluding pages of this section of the book, Carr offers his closely reasoned...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 213-216
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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