16. Using the Past in the Hebrew Bible: The Fantastic, Memory Techniques and 'History' in the Exodus Narrative
Laura Feldt [+]
University of Southern Denmark
This chapter analyses a primary kind of text about the ‘past’ which looms large in the Hebrew Bible world: the story of the Exodus. The Exodus narrative has been fundamental to questions of history in the Hebrew Bible and biblical scholarship, yet the pursuit of ‘history’ has been obstructed by the many fantastic nd clearly ‘unhistorical’ elements in the story. Thus, the narrative of the Exodus occupies an ambiguous position between myth and history in modern scholarship; at the same time this text is centrally concerned with the past and with how to maintain memory of it in the text’s recipients. This chapter contributes to investigating the uses of the past in the Hebrew Bible, analysing how the people’s past is mediated in narration in Exodus 1–18 by mixing ‘realistic’ historical narration with fantastic elements, as well as discussing the effects and functions of this mode of presentation. The autor then analyses the media of remembrance of the past presented within the text—memory techniques and ritual practices that stipulate how the story of the people’s past should be remembered by the members of the people of Israel. The argument draws on narratological/literary theory, as well as perspectives from cultural memory and media theory, discussing media of historical consciousness in the ancient world by investigating the presentation of the past, the understanding of the past, and ideas of how and why to remember the past, in this central text of the Hebrew Bible.