The Wives’ Tales Of Genesis 12, 20 & 26 And The Covenants At Beer-Sheba -- By: James K. Hoffmeier

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 43:1 (NA 1992)
Article: The Wives’ Tales Of Genesis 12, 20 & 26 And The Covenants At Beer-Sheba
Author: James K. Hoffmeier


The Wives’ Tales Of Genesis 12, 20 & 26
And The Covenants At Beer-Sheba1

James K. Hoffmeier

The stories of Abraham and Isaac claiming that Sarah (Gn. 12:11-16; 20:2-3) and Rebekah (Gn. 26:6-11) were their sisters are most perplexing, and consequently have attracted considerable scholarly discussion over the years. D.L. Petersen2 has rightly said that these stories ‘have long served as whetstones on which various techniques of higher criticism have been sharpened’.

C. Westermann3 concludes, with J. Van Seters,4 that Genesis 12 is the earliest of the three,5 and that the narratives of Genesis 20 and 26 are dependant on it. M. Noth,6 E.A. Speiser,7 J. Myers,8 and S. Nomoto,9 on the other hand, maintain that the Isaac version was the original. Clearly there is no agreement on the question of sources.

In the area of form criticism there has also been sustained attention given to these stories. H. Gunkel10 and K. Koch11 regarded Genesis 12 as saga, Genesis 20 as legend, and Genesis 26 as narrative that could not be specifically classified. C. Keller12 and R. Hals13 have shown that the traditional categories of saga and legend are no longer adequate for classifying Hebrew tales. Petersen14 proposes using the label ‘episodes in the patriarchal saga’ in his treatment of the stories in Genesis 12, 20 and 26. He likened the recurrence of the ‘...

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