D.J.A. Clines' Article, ‘Theme in Genesis 1-11'

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D.J.A. Clines' article, ‘Theme in Genesis 1-11', "aims to enquire about the theme of a unit of Pentateuchal text, Genesis 1-11,considered in and by itself rather than investigate as most students have done in the past" (483). His main concern is with the text in its form and nothing else. Thus, his main thesis is to enquire about the theme of a unit of Pentateuchal text Gen 1-11.

The article has four major sections. In the first major section, he explores the nature of Theme. Here he explains what ‘Theme' means. He explains theme by distinguishing it from similar terms like intention, motif, plot and subject. Of all the other terms, he found Theme to be both broader and narrower and deeper than the rest. It is narrower in that it may express only one aspect of the author's intention and it is broader in that it cannot always be stated adequately in terms of what the author had consciously in mind (484). He further explains the word by answering questions relating to the theme.

According to the author, there can only be one theme to a study. For him there also is no way of demonstrating a theme to everyone's satisfaction. Thus, he concludes that theme is the statement that most adequately account for the content, Structure and development of the work (486).

The second major section is that of the Themes that were suggested for the reading. This section is divided into three sub-sections. Each sub-section explains in detail one of the theme that has been suggested. The first one is A Sin-Speech- Mitigation- Punishment theme. This theme is realized in the plot or story pattern of the major narratives of Genesis 1-11. It looks at the narratives as they are understood by G von Rad, which is; whenever man sins, God's response is just yet gracious; he punishes, yet he forgives.

Clines makes his argument about this theme by means of questions. He uses Claus Westermann's analysis of the narrative pattern and G. von Rad's analysis as argument questions. The...
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