Theories About Traditions Underlying Patriarchal Narratives

Gottwald (1970s, '80's)

Tribal Israel was pre-literate

Pre-literate traditions reflect pre-state life

--Songs, Aphorisms, Saga, Genealogy, Rituals, Blessings and Curses, Lists, Victory hymns, taunts, thanksgivings

--Central core of Genesis is a) deliverance from Egypt (Moses) and b) conquest of land (Joshua)

--Patriarch stories are forward expansions to explain how Israelites got to Egypt

--Intent of oral tradition is to record origins stories, charter stories, laws and poems for instruction or celebration

Martin Noth: Tradition history view of oral transmission (1960s)

--Clans formed gradually over an extended period of time

--Need to connect oral tradition with origin within a particular clan

--A clue to tradition is connection with a region, place, or geographic feature

--Patriarchal narratives have clear geographic connections

--Genealogy is the driving force of Genesis narratives

Hermann Gunkel (early 20th c.)

--Oral tradition evolves from small units to larger, complex units (now disproven)

--A feature of a story that is anomalous or doesn't fit the context may reflect an earlier tradition