These are the generations: Identity, promise, and the <i>toledot</i> formula

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

This study examines the surface structure of the Pentateuch in the Hebrew Bible. Using a combination of form-critical and linguistic methods the dissertation seeks to understand the role of the toledot formula, often translated "These are the generations of Name," in shaping the book of Genesis and the Pentateuch as a whole. An examination of the formula uncovers that it functions primarily as a heading to major sections of text and draws the readers' attention to focus on an ever narrower range of characters.

Three mechanisms shape the way in which this shift in focus is accomplished: variations in the syntax of the toledot formula that distinguish main and secondary sections, the use of genealogies to preserve the family lines of secondary characters and their families, and the impact of divine promises on the ways in which narrowing can and cannot occur. Each of these three factors is examined in turn in chapters 3-5.

In observing the variations of syntax in the toledot formula, the most significant factor is whether the formula begins with the conjunction waw or not. Those that do not begin with waw function as major headings while those that do are secondary headings. Next, we find that genealogies function differently depending on their form. Linear genealogies move the story from one main character to another, while segmented genealogies function to preserve secondary family lines. Divine promises enter the picture in shaping the mechanism by which the focus of the story narrows. At three key points the toledot series is altered by divine promises: after the flood, with Abraham, and at Sinai.

By starting from the perspective of the surface structure of the text and addressing questions that investigation raises, the study is able to uncover and resolve a number of tensions within the text, as well as provide insights into a number of other questions surrounding the toledot headings and the organization of the structure of the Pentateuch.

Indexing (details)

0321: Bible
0318: Religion
0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Language, literature and linguistics; Covenant; Genealogy; Genesis (Book of); Identity; Old Testament; Promise; Toledot
These are the generations: Identity, promise, and the <i>toledot</i> formula
Thomas, Matthew A.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 67/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Schneider, Tammi J.
The Claremont Graduate University
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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