Presentation Title

Revisiting the Literary Structure of the Book of Exodus

Presenter Status

J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Department of Old Testament

Start Date

3-4-2016 5:20 PM

End Date

3-4-2016 6:10 PM

Session

Literary and Historical Studies

Presentation Abstract

This paper first surveys the scholarly literature dealing with the literary structure of the Book of Exodus in its final form. Scholars generally organize the final form of the book either by its evident geographical markers, or by theological subheadings, and major scholarly suggestions include bifid, tripartite, four-part, or multi-part macro-structures. After summarizing the shortcomings of these various proposed structures, this study, undertaken in collaboration with two doctoral students, suggests the presence of two detailed and overlapping parallel-panel macro-structures encompassing the entire book, one arising from striking parallels between the beginning of the book and its midpoint, and the second arising from striking parallels between the end of the book and its midpoint. The paper also suggests the presence of seven micro-structures (smaller literary units) that span the book of Exodus, with the middle micro-structure pointing toward a theological and thematic apex of the book. These micro-structures alternate symmetrically between chiastic and panel structures within the flow of the parallel-panel macro-structures. Each of these three structural approaches are complementary, and although each section points to a different passage of Exodus as the “center” of the book, each of these three central passages emphasize the same theme of God’s presence in leading the people of Israel out Egypt. This paper is offered as a case study of how aesthetic literary structure informs the theology of Scripture, as well as providing insights into its composition.

Biographical Sketch

Richard M. Davidson is J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. He has been with the Andrews faculty since 1979. Born in California, Davidson attended Loma Linda University, Riverside, California, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. Two years later he earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He also received his doctorate in Biblical Studies at Andrews in 1981. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Typological Structures in the Old and New Testaments.” Davidson has presented over seventy scholarly papers at professional meetings, and has written numerous articles for refereed journals and Adventist denominational papers, as well as various chapters in scholarly books. These may be viewed on his website (www.andrews.edu/~davidson.). Additional publications include the following books: Typology in Scripture (Andrews University Press,1981), A Love Song for the Sabbath(Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), In the Footsteps of Joshua (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1995), Biblical Hermeneutics (in Romanian; Editura CARD, 2003), Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament(Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), and (co-authored with Leonard Brand) Choose You This Day: Why It Matters What You Believe about Creation (Pacific Press, 2013). He is married to Jo Ann Mazat Davidson who also teaches at the Theological Seminary. They have a daughter, Rahel, and a son, Jonathan. Davidson enjoys backpacking, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, and tennis.

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Apr 3rd, 5:20 PM Apr 3rd, 6:10 PM

Revisiting the Literary Structure of the Book of Exodus

This paper first surveys the scholarly literature dealing with the literary structure of the Book of Exodus in its final form. Scholars generally organize the final form of the book either by its evident geographical markers, or by theological subheadings, and major scholarly suggestions include bifid, tripartite, four-part, or multi-part macro-structures. After summarizing the shortcomings of these various proposed structures, this study, undertaken in collaboration with two doctoral students, suggests the presence of two detailed and overlapping parallel-panel macro-structures encompassing the entire book, one arising from striking parallels between the beginning of the book and its midpoint, and the second arising from striking parallels between the end of the book and its midpoint. The paper also suggests the presence of seven micro-structures (smaller literary units) that span the book of Exodus, with the middle micro-structure pointing toward a theological and thematic apex of the book. These micro-structures alternate symmetrically between chiastic and panel structures within the flow of the parallel-panel macro-structures. Each of these three structural approaches are complementary, and although each section points to a different passage of Exodus as the “center” of the book, each of these three central passages emphasize the same theme of God’s presence in leading the people of Israel out Egypt. This paper is offered as a case study of how aesthetic literary structure informs the theology of Scripture, as well as providing insights into its composition.