Revealing the Name: An Investigation of the Divine Character through a Conversation Analysis of the Dialogues between God and Moses in the Book of Exodus

Arnold, Mark P (2015) Revealing the Name: An Investigation of the Divine Character through a Conversation Analysis of the Dialogues between God and Moses in the Book of Exodus. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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YHWH’s statement to Moses, אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה , has been much discussed by biblical scholars and theologians. For much of the last century this discussion related to matters of etymology or history of religion, or the precise grammar of the text. However, recently there has been renewed interest in understanding the statement in its present context as part of the book of Exodus, and in particular its role in the call of Moses. My thesis seeks to deepen understanding of the implications of this statement through a close reading of the dialogues between Moses and YHWH. My close reading of individual dialogues involves three steps: first investigation of the way in which the narrator portrays the actions of the characters, then the manner in which the narrator portrays individual speech of the characters and finally the way in which an analysis of the dialogues utilising principles from the socio-linguistic field of Conversation Analysis adds to an understanding of the characters. Through this close reading I show that the phrase אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה is best understood as linking the meaning of the name YHWH to the verb “to be” and in particular God’s promise to “be with” Moses in 3:12. The phrase affirms both YHWH’s presence with Moses and his freedom to be present in the manner he chooses and the implications of this affirmation of presence and freedom are worked out more fully in the narrative of Exodus. In the thesis my reading of the dialogues in Exodus 3-4 shows that YHWH transforms Moses into the means by which YHWH delivers his people from Egypt and also by which YHWH is present with his people. My examination of the dialogues in Exodus 5-7 demonstrates that YHWH’s plans are accomplished by his speech which re-designates and reshapes those with and about whom he is speaking. My analysis of Exodus 19-24 finds that the dialogues demonstrate YHWH’s freedom to be present as he chooses to different people at different points. Exodus 32:7-33:11 gives further meaning and significance to the divine name in terms of YHWH’s withdrawal in response to the idolatry of the people. From the final section of dialogue, Exodus 33:12-34:35, I show that the intercession of Moses is critical to the demonstration of YHWH’s mercy and compassion. My analysis of each of these dialogues demonstrates that a key means by which YHWH is present to his people is in and through Moses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bible studies, Book of Exodus; Moses
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2016 10:15
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:55

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