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Types of Repetition and Shadows of History in Hebraic Narrative
|Types of Repetition and Shadows of History in Hebraic Narrative
|Year of Publication
|Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
|Captain Moroni; Joseph (of Egypt); Narrative; Repetition; Title of Liberty
Modern readers too often misunderstand ancient narrative. Typical of this incomprehension has been the inclination of modern biblical critics to view repetitions as narrative failures. Whether you call such repetitions types, narrative analogies, type scenes, midrashic recurrences, or numerous other names, this view of repeated elements has dominated modern readings of Hebraic narratives for at least 200 years. Robert Alter, who introduced a new yet antique understanding of repetitions in the Hebrew Bible in the 1980s, began to reverse this trend. Such repeated elements aren’t failures or shortcomings but are themselves artistic clues to narrative meaning that call readers to appreciate the depth of the story understood against the background of allusion and tradition. Richard Hays has brought similar insights to Christian scripture. The Book of Mormon incorporates the same narrative features as are present in other Hebraic narrative. The ancient rabbis highlighted the repeating elements in biblical narrative, noting that “what happens to the fathers, happens to the sons.” The story of Moroni’s raising the standard of liberty in Alma 46 illustrates the repetitive expectation by seeing the events of the biblical Joseph’s life repeated in the lives of these Nephite descendants of Joseph. Such recurrence in narratives can, considering the insights of Alter and Hays, reveal richness and depth in the narrative without detracting from the historical qualities of the text.
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