The present work offers an explication of Exodus 1-14 in the Masoretic text
from a literary perspective and questions the methodological relationship between
Narrative Criticism and traditional Historical Criticism.
Chapter One outlines a set of theoretical assumptions upon which the reading
of Exodus is based with regard to history, referentiality, the diachronic/synchronic
relationship, intentionality and ideology. Along with theory, the method being utilised
is discussed, particularly with respect to its role in a pluralistic methodological sphere
and also in relation to the stance of the interpreter along emic and etic lines of
Chapter Two interacts with a selection of approaches through which the
Exodus story has been read and evaluates their usefulness for Narrative Criticism.
Chapters Three to Five contain the Narrative Criticism proper as applied to
Exodus 1-14: Chapter Three examines the plot of the entire story in a descriptive
manner. After an initial survey and consideration of plot from Aristotle onwards, the
plot of Exodus 1-14 is subdivided into four main parts: Section I: Exod 1:1-2:25
(.Introduction), Section II: Exod 3:1-7:7 (Ascent), Section III: Exod 7:8-13:16
(Complication) and Section IV: Exod 13:17-14:31 (Conclusion).
Chapter Four deals with the characterisation of the story's Introduction
(Section I: Exod 1:1-2:25), focusing initially on the diverse characterisation
techniques and character types found within its seven pericopae. Then a major
section on etiology opens the methodological dialogue between Narrative Criticism
and traditional Historical Criticism (with the issue of etiology—Form Criticism) and
intimates a positive interrelationship.
Chapter Five offers a close reading of the Prologue and initial Plagues triad
(Exod 7:8-8:15) from a narrative-critical perspective, and then continues the
literary/historical dialogue concerning method, with the entire Plagues narratives
(Section III: Exod 7:8-13:16) as primary data. Whereas the narratological function of
these narratives is that they offer links with previous and future story-elements
through resonances and foreshadowing, at a historical-compositional level they can be
seen to represent two separate tradition-complexes.
The thesis locates the method of Narrative Criticism within a context of
certain issues that are relevant to literary theory. It samples this method by treating
the plot of the whole story, the characterisation of the Introduction and the
narratology of the Plagues. Finally, the thesis discusses the relationship between
Narrative Criticism and issues (like etiology and the compositional development of the
story) long discussed by more historical types of criticism.