Christo Lombaard


 Building forth on a series of earlier contributions in which the ‘patriarchal era’ is dated much later than has been commonly done, in this article the implications such a dating has for the early phase of canon formation are considered. The patriarchs are namely not considered to be either early, pre-monarchical figures about whom traditions were kept alive for centuries in ancient Israel until written down, nor are they considered to be purely literary figments of folk imagination, as had been the dominant two trends in critical scholarship. Moreover, none of the patriarchal figures are understood to be singular figures; rather, they are composite figures as we encounter them in the Pentateuch, created by means of the conflation of ‘historical’ narratives about different tribal leadership figures, presented in the mode of legend (either as a natural conflation of legendary material, or as a means of unifying more closely some loosely-related groups). This means that the canon, as it was being formed in the post-exilic period, reflected the ‘internal’ tensions between the various tradent groups of the patriarchal figures as they jostled for power with one another, but reflected also the ‘external’ tensions, as the patriarchal groups together are in discussion with other social and theological streams in that society. In order to establish more firmly the role of the patriarchal tradent groups in society, the ‘patriarchal era’ was not presented as having been a relatively recent period, but was imagined in an ancient past, and as such found placement within the canon-in-development, in order to establish their legitimacy on the basis of antiquity.


Patriarchal Era; Patriarchal Narratives; Tradent Groups; Patriarchal Groups; Late Dating; Early Canon

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