• Focalization in the Old Testament Narratives with Specific Examples from the Book of Ruth

      Firth, David; Nazarov, Konstantin (University of Chester, 2018-11-22)
      The works in the field of general narratology that have been written since the first introduction of the concept by Genette in 1972 demonstrate a great dynamic in the development of this concept. Unfortunately, the refinements of Genette’s theory often suffer from inconsistency of definitions and remain heuristic, which does not allow the dissemination of the achievements to other types of texts (for example, Old Testament narratives). In the field of biblical narratology the concept of focalization (especially its recent development) was largely overlooked, and the attempts to study the Old Testament narratives in relation to the notion of focalization are generally not accompanied by careful examination of the subject. The purpose of the present research is the consideration of the narratological concept of focalization with regard to the Book of Ruth. To this end, the research examines if recent narrative theories suggest a universal methodology of exploring focalization that can be equally applicable to any narrative texts (including Old Testament narratives) and what are the specifics of applying this methodology to the Old Testament narratives? To answer the question above, the research considers Wolf Schmid’s ideal genetic model of narrative constitution and Valeri Tjupa’s theory of eventfulness and narrative world pictures as universal models for studying focalization. With some modifications and refinements these ideas are transformed into a methodology of studying focalization in the Old Testament narratives. The application of the method to the Book of Ruth shows that on the level of selection of narrative information, the narrator selects sixteen episodes that constitute four narratological events that became the basis of the plot. Then, on the level of composition by the means of reported speech and the play of horizons, those episodes and events were placed in a certain order. Finally, on the level of presentation, these events were presented mainly in the scope of internal focalization, which as demonstrated in the work correlates with the use of the qatal form of the Hebrew verb. Since Schmid’s ideal genetic model of narrative constitution claims to be universal, the method of studying focalization can be equally applied to other Old Testament narratives. Tjupa’s theory of eventfulness and narrative world pictures can help to emphasize narratological events and to blueprint the thread of the narrative and logic of selectivity for those Old Testament narratives that do not have clear division into episodes and events. A subject of special interest is the question if the hypothesis about correlation between constructions with the qatal form of the Hebrew verb and internal focalization remains true to other Old Testament narratives.
    • US Protestant natalist reception of Old Testament "fruitful verses" : A critique

      Clough, David; Deane-Drummond, Celia; Christianson, Eric; McKeown, John P. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-07)
      The advocacy of a high birth rate is an ideology called natalism. In the USA since 1985 some Protestants have used Old Testament verses to support natalist arguments. This thesis argues that natalism is inappropriate as a Christian application of Scripture, especially since rich nations’ populations’ total footprint is detrimental to biodiversity and to poor nations’ welfare. The methodology is analysis of natalist writings, investigation of possible historical roots, and then evaluation of natalist interpretation from three perspectives: the ancient Near Eastern OT context, patristic Christian tradition, and contemporary ecological concerns. The analysis and historical investigation consists of two chapters. Chapter 2 considers wider natalism, modern secular and religious varieties, and the cultural context of US Evangelicalism. Through textual analysis of biblical reception in recent natalist writings, it identifies the verses cited and common interpretative arguments. Chapter 3 asks whether this natalism has roots in historic Protestantism. It investigates the claim made by some natalist advocates that Martin Luther in the 16th century expounded similar ideas about fecundity. The evaluation consists of three chapters. Chapter 4 explores the ancient Near Eastern cultural context, and Old Testament ideas about fecundity’s role in God’s project of salvation. Ventures by biblical scholars into contemporary application of the verses in question are critiqued. Chapter 5 considers Augustine’s comments on human fruitfulness in the Bible and his thinking on fecundity. Using ressourcement from this representative of patristic tradition, Augustine’s reception is compared with natalism. Chapter 6 explains an ecological hermeneutic which brings biblical and classic Christian biblical reception into conversation with contemporary concerns. My reception of the verses uses a hermeneutic lens derived from Genesis 1, and gives priority to the contextual issues of biodiversity and the un/sustainability of the ecological footprints of overpopulated rich nations. The thesis is the first to offer systematic analysis of natalist biblical reception, and focuses on the neglected majority of natalists which accepts family planning. It highlights exegetical arguments which are then compared with Luther’s writings, tested against plausible meanings of the fruitful verses, and tested against Augustine and patristic tradition. Previous research on ecologically responsible interpretation of these verses and on Christian thinking about human fecundity and overpopulation is updated and extended in this dissertation.