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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Injustice of Noah's Curse and the Presumption of Canaanite Guilt: A New Reading of Genesis 9:18-29
by Reed, Justin M., Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2020, 335; 27964618
Abstract (Summary)

The strange story of Noah’s drunkenness, nakedness, and curse of his grandson, Canaan (Gen 9:18-29), often strikes readers as patently unjust. Therefore, a great diversity of interpreters have endeavored to clarify the putatively veiled justice of this story. However, I argue that this strange Israelite narrative engineered to denigrate their Canaanite rivals was, in fact, constructed with an explicitly unjust curse that fits coherently into the overall literary framework of the primeval history (Gen 1-11).

First, I dedicate two chapters to demonstrating the prevalence and problems with the presumption of Canaanite guilt, a bias that has guided the nearly unanimous history of consequences of this text in spite of a great diversity of interpretations. By showing the inadequacy of interpretations plagued by this bias, I open up possibilities to interpret the text differently. In my third chapter, I establish the literary-critical methodology by which I exegete the text. In short, I am approaching this passage with a focus on the construction of meaning in the world that the text creates with a major emphasis on intertextuality and irony within the literary context of the primeval history. My fourth chapter outlines major conclusions of a number of scholars who have attempted to understand Gen 9:18-29 in the context of the primeval history. I do this in order to show ways that the presumption of Canaanite guilt actually detracts from interpreters’ own construction of coherence for the primeval history. Through this analysis, I show that the problems with these interpretations call for a different foundation to interpreting Noah’s curse—one that does not rely on the presumption of Canaanite guilt. In the fifth chapter, I provide a detailed exegesis of Gen 9:18-29 within the literary context of the primeval history. Finally, in my concluding chapter, I entertain the potential of the concept of interest-convergence (adopted from critical race theory) as a helpful heuristic for hypothesizing why it is not counterintuitive for ancient Israelites to compose a text in which their prototypical enemy is unjustly cursed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Olson, Dennis T
Commitee: Seow, Choon-Leong, Rainey, Brian
School: Princeton Theological Seminary
Department: Biblical Studies
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biblical studies, Ancient history, Religious history
Keywords: Noah, Canaan, Canaanite guilt, Primeval history
Publication Number: 27964618
ISBN: 9798664726121
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