The Sinai Narrative. Test Case and Future Paradigms. The Themes and the Rhetoric of the Torah

The first part of the lecture, in continuance with the topic of the previous session, seeks to perform a full-fledged test case exercise with the students attending the class. The test case exercise commences with the identification of the narrative framework of divine speeches in the Hebrew text of Exodus/Shemot 19,3-6 and 20,22 – 24,2 (the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targum and Syriac Peshitta versions of the Exodus passage are also briefly presented and compared). Then Exodus 20,22 is examined as regards to the evidence that it provides concerning the unity of the abovementioned divine speeches buttressing the current location of 20,18-21 after the Decalogue. In topical sequence, what follows is a presentation of the Deuteronomistic redaction, its influence upon the Sinai Narrative and the source analysis of Exodus.

Succeeding the test case exercise, future paradigms are also displayed, which display is intertwined with such issues as the dating of the composition of the Torah/Pentateuch, relevant issues arising from a short survey of scholarship and the date of final editing.

The second part of the lecture underscores the importance of thematic studies regarding the Torah/Pentateuch. Studies of this sort were carried out by scholars such as Martin Noth, Gerhard von Rad and David Clines. Besides themes, the rhetoric of the Torah/Pentateuch may also be considered vital for the process of interpretation. Scholars deemed that the rhetoric of the Torah/Pentateuch varied from century to century, par excellence its guarded optimism presumes a twelfth-century setting, its celebration and protest a tenth-century setting, its reassurance to the dispirited a seventh-century setting and its hopeful tone in difficult times a fifth-century setting.