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Portrait of a Villain: Laban the Aramean in Rabbinic Literature

Zetterholm, Karin LU (2001)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Syftet med denna studie är att försöka förklara varför araméen Laban, vilken i Bibeln (Genesis) framstår som en ganska harmlös bifigur, i rabbinsk litteratur i allmänhet betraktas som en av Jakobs och därmed Israels stora fiender. Avhandlingen hävdar att bilden av Laban som en skurk utvecklats som ett resultat av rabbinsk hermeneutik och att de egenskaper som tillskrivs honom i rabbinsk litteratur inte valts p.g.a. ett särskilt intresse för hans person eller en önskan att förse honom med vissa i förväg uttänkta karakteristika utan istället är resultatet av interaktion mellan rabbinerna och bibeltexten varvid rabbinerna fyllde i de luckor de tyckte sig finna i bibeltexten och förklarade... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Syftet med denna studie är att försöka förklara varför araméen Laban, vilken i Bibeln (Genesis) framstår som en ganska harmlös bifigur, i rabbinsk litteratur i allmänhet betraktas som en av Jakobs och därmed Israels stora fiender. Avhandlingen hävdar att bilden av Laban som en skurk utvecklats som ett resultat av rabbinsk hermeneutik och att de egenskaper som tillskrivs honom i rabbinsk litteratur inte valts p.g.a. ett särskilt intresse för hans person eller en önskan att förse honom med vissa i förväg uttänkta karakteristika utan istället är resultatet av interaktion mellan rabbinerna och bibeltexten varvid rabbinerna fyllde i de luckor de tyckte sig finna i bibeltexten och förklarade motsägelser med information från andra bibelverser och med idéer som de hämtade från sin teologi och ideologi. Studien visar att föreställningen att en viss individ är en skurk kan utvecklas som en följd av hermeneutik utan att den individen nödvändigtvis identifieras med en verklig, historisk fiende. Vidare visar den att en fiendebild kan uppkomma som en sidoeffekt av andra angelägenheter än ett intresse för själva skurken, en iakttagelse som drar uppmärksamhet till den roll som bibeltolkning spelade för uppkomsten av de åsikter och ideologier som speglas i den rabbinska litteraturen samt till det faktum att bibelexeges och ideologi är oskiljaktliga och ständigt interagerar med varandra. Bokens fyra huvudkapitel innehåller (1) en kort översikt över araméen Laban i Bibeln och den pre-rabbinska litteraturen, (2) den rabbinska tolkningen av Deut 26:5 och den roll denna har spelat för utvecklingen av bilden av Laban som ond, (3) en översikt över de rabbinska utläggningarna om Laban inom Jakob-Laban berättelsen återgivna i midrash-samlingarna till Genesis, (4) en narrativ analys av Jakob-Laban berättelsen i Targum Pseudo-Jonathan samt en översikt över hur Laban framställs i de övriga targumerna till Pentateuchen. (Less)
Abstract
This study attempts to answer the question of why Laban the Aramean, a rather harmless character as presented in the biblical text, is generally portrayed in rabbinic literature as a major enemy of Jacob and Israel. It is argued that the portrait of Laban as a villain developed as a result of rabbinic hermeneutics, and that the characteristics which are attributed to him in rabbinic literature were not arbitrarily chosen due to a particular interest in his person or a wish to endow him with a certain set of negative characteristics, but rather derive from interaction between the rabbis and the biblical text in a process where the rabbis filled in the gaps that they perceived in the biblical text and explained inconsistencies with material... (More)
This study attempts to answer the question of why Laban the Aramean, a rather harmless character as presented in the biblical text, is generally portrayed in rabbinic literature as a major enemy of Jacob and Israel. It is argued that the portrait of Laban as a villain developed as a result of rabbinic hermeneutics, and that the characteristics which are attributed to him in rabbinic literature were not arbitrarily chosen due to a particular interest in his person or a wish to endow him with a certain set of negative characteristics, but rather derive from interaction between the rabbis and the biblical text in a process where the rabbis filled in the gaps that they perceived in the biblical text and explained inconsistencies with material provided by the Bible itself and by material taken from their ideological code. The study suggests that a portrait of a villain can develop as a result of hermeneutics without that portrait necessarily being inspired by a historical enemy. It also indicates that an image of an enemy can develop primarily as a side-effect of concerns other than an interest in the villain himself, observations which draw attention to the role that exegesis of the Bible played in the formation of the opinions and world view of the rabbis as well as the inseparability of exegesis and ideology. The four main chapters of the book include respectively (1) a brief survey of Laban the Aramean in the Bible and pre-rabbinic literature, (2) the rabbinic interpretations of Deut 26:5 and the role that these have played in the development of the image of Laban as wicked, (3) a survey of the narrative expansions on Laban within the Jacob-Laban story as rendered by the midrashic compilations on Genesis, (4) a narrative analysis of the Jacob-Laban story in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and the presentation of Laban in the remaining targumim on the Pentateuch (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Professor Zakovitch, Yair, The hebrew University of Jerusalem
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Världsreligioner (ej kristendom), Bibelvetenskap, Bible, Jacob, literary theory, deceiver, Aramean, Laban, narrative analysis, narrative expansion, targum, midrash, ideology, intertextuality, interpretation, hermeneutics, literature criticism, General and comparative literature, Non-Christian religions, Allmän och jämförande litteratur, litteraturkritik, litteraturteori
pages
234 pages
publisher
Peeters Publishers
defense location
Samarkand, Akademiska Föreningen, Sandgatan 2
defense date
2001-03-30 10:00
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c125296d-bb22-49fe-b1f9-5e83ac5459d3 (old id 20031)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 12:12:10
date last changed
2016-09-26 14:45:25
@misc{c125296d-bb22-49fe-b1f9-5e83ac5459d3,
  abstract     = {This study attempts to answer the question of why Laban the Aramean, a rather harmless character as presented in the biblical text, is generally portrayed in rabbinic literature as a major enemy of Jacob and Israel. It is argued that the portrait of Laban as a villain developed as a result of rabbinic hermeneutics, and that the characteristics which are attributed to him in rabbinic literature were not arbitrarily chosen due to a particular interest in his person or a wish to endow him with a certain set of negative characteristics, but rather derive from interaction between the rabbis and the biblical text in a process where the rabbis filled in the gaps that they perceived in the biblical text and explained inconsistencies with material provided by the Bible itself and by material taken from their ideological code. The study suggests that a portrait of a villain can develop as a result of hermeneutics without that portrait necessarily being inspired by a historical enemy. It also indicates that an image of an enemy can develop primarily as a side-effect of concerns other than an interest in the villain himself, observations which draw attention to the role that exegesis of the Bible played in the formation of the opinions and world view of the rabbis as well as the inseparability of exegesis and ideology. The four main chapters of the book include respectively (1) a brief survey of Laban the Aramean in the Bible and pre-rabbinic literature, (2) the rabbinic interpretations of Deut 26:5 and the role that these have played in the development of the image of Laban as wicked, (3) a survey of the narrative expansions on Laban within the Jacob-Laban story as rendered by the midrashic compilations on Genesis, (4) a narrative analysis of the Jacob-Laban story in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and the presentation of Laban in the remaining targumim on the Pentateuch},
  author       = {Zetterholm, Karin},
  keyword      = {Världsreligioner (ej kristendom),Bibelvetenskap,Bible,Jacob,literary theory,deceiver,Aramean,Laban,narrative analysis,narrative expansion,targum,midrash,ideology,intertextuality,interpretation,hermeneutics,literature criticism,General and comparative literature,Non-Christian religions,Allmän och jämförande litteratur,litteraturkritik,litteraturteori},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {234},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x5172fe0)},
  title        = {Portrait of a Villain: Laban the Aramean in Rabbinic Literature},
  year         = {2001},
}