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Emplotment, Plot and Explotment:

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Refining Plot Analysis of Biblical Narratives 
from the Reader’s Perspective

image of Biblical Interpretation

The notion of plot has a long history of various nuances and uses in literary and biblical studies. Consequently, the practice of plot analysis is quite variable. Although most definitions of plot privilege other elements than the reader, this tendency has recently begun to change. This article argues that plot is more comprehensible and constructive when it is located within the reader’s encounter of the storyworld on the cognitive and affective levels. Thus, the activities of composition and reception, emplotment and plot are best considered distinct activities. An evaluation of definitions illustrates this necessary distinction and leads to a fresh formulation of plot, especially in relation to narratives purporting to be factual. As a complementary step, ‘explotment’ is proposed as a link between the interpretation of the past and the evaluation of the reader, thus explaining the immersive and emersive exploration of the story’s central question(s). Equipped with this heuristic, the interpreter can investigate various questions in the study of biblical narratives on the macro and micro levels; for example, the narrative’s progressive ideological and pragmatic force and development as well as single plot-enhancing elements such as various types of pericopes, literary devices and narrative techniques. With this emphasis on reception theory, this type of plot analysis can be especially beneficial to narrative-critical and reader-response studies. The value of plot theory for biblical exegesis is further demonstrated through illustrations and discussion applied to Luke-Acts.

Affiliations: 1: Ecole Supérieure Privée de Théologie (Niamey) Rép. du NIGER fam.morgan@yahoo.fr

10.1163/15685152-1041A0004
/content/journals/10.1163/15685152-1041a0004
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/content/journals/10.1163/15685152-1041a0004
2013-01-01
2016-12-03

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