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Literary Theory and Composition History of the Torah: The Sea Crossing (Exod 14:1–31) as a Test Case

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Chapter Summary

The distance between modern literary criticism and classic historical criticism is actually not as vast as it seems, because concern for the literary integrity of a text is at the center of enterprises. Historical critics sometimes lose sight of the core goal of Literarkritik in their effort to apply a particular model of composition history. The composite character of biblical literature has long been acknowledged, but what may seem to be fractures in a narrative are not always real fractures. The divine combat motif is blended with the complaint motif to create the dramatic act of salvation which gets the Israelites out of Egypt and inspires awe in YHWH as well as trust in Moses. Diana Edelman argued that Exodus 14 "does not presume the existence of the wilderness wandering traditions", but use of the complaint motif to provide its basic framework is an important accommodation to those very traditions.

Keywords: composition history; divine combat motif; literary theory; sea crossing



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