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image of Vetus Testamentum

Although the importance of inner-biblical allusion is now widely recognised, there is still some uncertainty about the criteria by which genuine allusions may be distinguished from, say, merely fortuitous resemblances. The present article tries to illuminate these issues through a study of Genesis xxxviii. Since there are numerous individual similarities between this chapter and the Succession Narrative, some scholars have claimed (by an argument of cumulative probabilities) that one story is intentionally alluding to the other. This method of identifying allusions, however, is here rejected - both because of difficulties in carrying it through consistently and non-arbitrarily, and also because it would lead to an implausible plurality of further supposed-allusions. Instead, a methodology based upon R. Alter's notion of a type-scene is proposed, by which allusion is discovered through identifying shared patterns of interconnected resemblances. Applying this methodology also to Genesis xxxviii, it is argued both that this text makes numerous allusions to the stories of Jacob and Joseph, and that recognising these allusions adds very considerably to our understanding of all three stories.

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge, United Kingdom


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