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Title page for ETD etd-03252012-221853

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Paris, Christopher T
URN etd-03252012-221853
Title Narrative Obtrusion in the Hebrew Bible
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Alice Hunt Committee Member
Annalisa Azzoni Committee Member
David Wasserstein Committee Member
Douglas A. Knight Committee Member
Herbert Marbury Committee Member
Jack M. Sasson Committee Member
  • Deuteronomist
  • Ancient Near Eastern Literature
  • Omniscient Narrator
  • Narrative Criticism
  • Obtrusion
Date of Defense 2012-02-24
Availability unrestricted
Narrative critics of the Hebrew Bible can describe the biblical narrators as “laconic,” “terse,” or “economical.” The narrators generally remain in the background, allowing the story to proceed while relying on characters and dialogue to provide necessary information to readers. On those occasions when these narrators add notes to their stories, scholars characterize such interruptions as asides. A narrative interruption occurs when the narrator steps out of the shadows and remarks on the story, perhaps by providing a historical reference or information about a character. The omniscient narrator employs most of these notes to aid reader understanding. In rare cases, the narrator wishes to force the narrator’s opinion on the reader, exceeding the boundaries of omniscience and becoming an obtrusive narrator.

Obtrusions are comments that the narrator inserts into the text actively attempting to hinder reader response because the narrator wishes to foreclose potential issues in the text that will create problems for readers, either because of questions the narrator believes the reader may ask or because of the assumptions the narrator fears the reader may have. An obtrusion may be recognized by the forcefulness of the comment as well as its essentiality and location within the narrative. Although previous scholarship has characterized these narrative intrusions as asides or redactions, this study argues that the narrator occasionally breaks into the text to respond to reader questions and assumptions or to protect a favored character. In many cases, the narrator obtrudes by invoking the divine. This project examines localized break frame and non-breakframe obtrusions in the Deuteronomistic History while considering examples of omniscience and obtrusiveness in other books of the Hebrew Bible and in ancient Near Eastern literature.

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