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The Story of Joseph’s Brothers 
in Light of the “Therapeutic Narrative” Theory

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image of Biblical Interpretation

Many critics have addressed the importance of recapitulation in biblical narrative and its contribution toward the shaping of narrative. This essay marks an attempt to assess the role of recapitulation in light of the basic assumptions of the “therapeutic narrative” theory. According to this approach, the “truth” that surfaces over the course of psychological treatment does not necessarily correspond to historical truth. It rather reflects a narrative truth, in light of which the life of the patient is drawn anew, in a more consistent, gratifying, and effective manner than it was in the original, destructive story. On the basis of this notion, we may assess the role of recapitulation in biblical narrative in terms of its contribution to the reader’s ability to penetrate the speaking character’s subconscious, assess the new point of focus that the character chooses in presenting his or her story, and thereby determine the emotional process that the character undergoes. This approach is exemplified through an analysis of the Joseph narrative, in which the brothers must repeatedly tell their story to various characters in the story. It appears that two points of focus are developed over the course of the narrative by the various repetitions: the relationship between human activity (and the acceptance of responsibility for that activity) and divine providence, and the characters’ ability to interpret hidden messages that are not stated openly.

Affiliations: 1: Bar Ilan University, Israel


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