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Abram to Abraham

A Literary Analysis of the Abraham Narrative

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Jonathan Grossman

Abram to Abraham explores the Abraham saga (11:27-22:24) through a literary lens, following the legendary figure of Abraham as he navigates the arduous odyssey to nationhood. Rather than overlook the textual discrepancies, repetitions and contradictions long noted by diachronic scholars, this study tackles them directly, demonstrating how many problems of the ancient text in fact hold the key to deeper understanding of the narrative and its objectives. Therefore, the book frequently notes the classic division of the text according to primary sources, but offers an alternative, more harmonious reading based on the assumption that the narrative forms a single, intentionally designed unit.
The narrative’s artistic design is especially evident in its arrangement of the two halves of the story around the protagonists’ change of name. The stories of Abram and Sarai in the first half of the cycle (11:27-16:16) are parallel to the stories of Abraham and Sarah in the second half (18:1-22:24). A close reading of this transformation in the biblical narrative illuminates the moral and theological values championed by the figure of Abraham as luminary, soldier, family man, and loyal subject of God.

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Foreword .................................................................................................... 13 Introduction ............................................................................................... 15 “Abraham was but one man” (Eze 33:24) ......................................... 15 The Historical Era of the Abraham Narrative ................................. 16 Sources, Redaction, and Cohesion ..................................................... 21 The Interchangeability of God’s Names in the Narrative .................................................................. 28 The Abraham Cycle as a Cohesive Unit ............................................ 31 Redaction as Interpretation of the Text ............................................ 34 The Narrative and Artistic Structure of the Abraham Cycle .................................................................... 34 The Context of the Narrative Cycle .................................................. 42 Family and Nationality ......................................................................... 43 The Abraham Cycle: Between “Nation” and “People” .................. 50 Citizen Will and Divine Will ............................................................... 59 Nationalism and Morality .................................................................... 64 Moral Nationalism and Post-Modern Nationalism ......................... 67 Chapter 1: The Line of Terah (11:27–30) ............................................. 69 Terah’s Journey to Canaan (11:31–32) ............................................... 72 Plot Development ................................................................................. 74 Literary Significance ............................................................................. 78 Chapter 2: Abram’s Journey to Canaan (12:1–9) .................................. 83 The Omitted Introduction .................................................................. 83 Go Forth ................................................................................................ 84 Abram’s Journey .................................................................................... 92 Abram’s Journey in Canaan and the Construction of Altars ............................................................. 96 8 Chapter 3: The Descent to Egypt (12:10–20) .................................... 105 Chapter 4: The Separation from Lot (Gen 13) .................................. 119 The Quarreling Herdsmen ................................................................ 121 Abram’s Proposal ................................................................................ 123 Lot’s Choice: Sodom, like the Garden of Eden, like the land of Egypt .................................................. 124 Chapter 5: War of the Four Kings – Lot’s Liberation (14) ...................................................................... 131 Conquest of the Transjordan (1–7) ................................................. 133 Lot’s Rescue (8–16) ............................................................................. 140 Abram Takes Action ........................................................................... 145 Abram Meets with the Kings (17–24) ............................................. 146 Chapter 6: Looking to the Stars and the Covenant between the Pieces (15) ............................................... 161 The Promise of Offspring (1–6) ...................................................... 163 The Covenant between the...

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