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Prehistory in the Call to Abraham

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image of Biblical Interpretation

A common pool of primitive human values fuels the world's religions. These values are evident in classical religions and are found lying on the surface in the book of Genesis, which is among the Bible's richest archetypal repositories. The Genesis pre-history focuses on human well-being. The mythological assumptions underlying this story manifest the rudiments of human thought and experience laid down in the archaic period. A hostile natural environment evokes behaviour to overcome its hazards. The narrative explores the mythological options of agency for achieving human well-being. As in other theistic worldviews two primary agencies are envisioned. Gods and humans, each with strengths and weaknesses, are potential protagonists on the stage of human optimism. Genesis inherits a southwest Asian cosmogony in which the gods are hostile to the advanced potential of collective human agency. Divine hostility complicates agency options, leading to a devotional compromise in the form of God's covenant with Abraham. The essay suggests the value of a renewed awareness of the influence of archaic human experience on the classical literature of ancient Israel. The argument is developed with reference to the traditional figure of Abraham.

10.1163/156851506776722976
/content/journals/10.1163/156851506776722976
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/content/journals/10.1163/156851506776722976
2006-07-01
2016-12-08

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