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Textual Gaps, Dual Causality, and Their Theological Implication

Hyo Myong Lim 1

1만나교회

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In the Hebrew narratives God is often portrayed as orchestrating eventsbehind the scenes. When God recedes into the background, humancharacters are granted a wide scope of initiative and the plot itself flows asa series of cause and effect. If God operates behind the scenes and humanactions take up a conspicuous place, how are we going to explain the causeof an event in terms of the roles that the human and the divine charactersplay?To answer the question raised above, I have chosen 1 Samuel 4(thedestruction of the Elides) and 1 Samuel 9(Saul's journey to find lostdonkeys) as texts to be closely examined. The selected texts share twocharacteristics in common, which are critical to this study. Firstly, theplots of the narratives flow according to the principle of causality. Eachmovement in the plot is connected as cause and effect. Secondly, God'simplication in the narrated events is indicated in the prophecies whichare placed before or after the narratives. The downfall of the Elides isannounced before it happens, and God's sending of Saul to Samuel isrevealed at the end of Saul's journey. In reading the texts, I use the newliterary critical approach, paying attention to the plot, characterization,textual gaps, textual ambiguity and indeterminacy. A close examination of the texts reveals that the prominent textual gaps--the ways in which God's will for the Elides and Saul, which is proclaimedin the prophecies, is to be fulfilled, the cause of the war against thePhilistines, and how the donkeys are lost and found--call for the reader'sactive participation in creating the meaning of the story. In filling the gapswith imagination in the reading process, the readers, being aware of theprophecies, are urged to find God's invisible hand in the events. Yet, dueto the causal flow of the narratives and the prominent role of humancharacters, God's power is understood as not coercion but influence or‘seduction’ as seen in Saul's journey toward Samuel. Thus both the divineand the human cause an event(dual causality).

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.