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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of the book discusses why the history of religions approach to incubation has failed in biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies: it has much to do with the problem of definition. After differentiating three possible levels of definition of incubation, it proposes to focus on incubation as a literary device. In particular the chapter proposes to use the Homeric conception of type-scene in defining and discerning incubation as a literary device. Finally, two points are made towards the justification of the use of type-scene: 1) Type-scene is a motif-sequence, while incubation is an action-sequence; 2) Just as we needed a flexible definition of incubation for a comparative perspective, so also we need a parallel flexible definition of incubation as a literary device. The conception of type-scene as a pre-verbal Gestalt provides such flexibility. Recognition of type-scene is then done by the principle of family resemblance.

Keywords: ancient Near Eastern studies; biblical studies; incubation; type-scene



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