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Durham e-Theses
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A prophet like Moses? A narrative-theological reading of the Elijah narratives

Dharamraj, Havilah (2006) A prophet like Moses? A narrative-theological reading of the Elijah narratives. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



If one reads the Moses and Elijah narratives in their canonical order and arrangement, the typical reader's response, since rabbinic times, is to note the manifold parallels between them. These parallels appear at all the various levels of any discourse: they may be found at the verbal level, recognizable in significant words and phrases; at the level of story, they emerge in the framework of the narrative, in the progression of the plot and in characterisation; most significantly, the parallels colour the conceptual level, in terms of both significant motifs and overarching themes. This cumulative resonance peaks at I Kgs 19 and 2 Kgs 2, two critical components of the Elijah cycle, compelling an appraisal of the character Elijah against the character Moses. Such a comparison becomes a legitimate exercise considering the promise in Deut. 18:18 of another like Moses. With Moses established as Israel's prophet par excellence, the debate often turns on deciding whether Elijah follows the paradigm or falls short of it. Thus, 1 Kgs 19, which relates Elijah's experiences at Horeb, is regularly read as Elijah's critical failure as a Mosaic prophet; he indicts Israel rather than intercedes for them. This thesis argues that such a reading dislocates the parallels the narrative carefully builds up between 1 Kgs 19 and Exod. 32-34; further, this negative portrayal of Elijah makes it difficult to reconcile 1 Kgs 19 with the remainder of the Elijah narratives, notably, with 2 Kgs 2, where Elijah is accorded an exit that indubitably affirms his service as prophet. An alternative reading is offered which is particularly sensitive to any inner-biblical exegesis as may be mediated by the Mosaic resonance. This reading identifies the theological thrust, and the implications for the larger narrative of the "primary history" of Israel, of Elijah being read (and perhaps, presented by the narrator), as a prophet like Moses.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:52

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