This book is a fine example of what can be contributed to theological understanding through a study of narrative. By means of a semiotic analysis of the Genesis stories, White shows how each stage in the growth of the biblical tradition is an interpretation of some body of prior tradition, while the writing of the Genesis narrative centres around the types of possible relations of the writer's discourse to the discourse of that writer's characters (a theory developed from Bakhtin). This book's approach is distinctive in its use of semiotic theory to engage in close readings of the texts to show the way in which the style and plots of specific narratives lead to new perceptions and understandings. This contrasts to studies which aim for a more formal description of biblical narratives (Fokkelman), or more global descriptions of biblical poetics (Sternberg).
Preface; Part I. A Functional Theory of Narrativefunctional theory of narrative; 2. The functions of the sign; 3. A functional definition of narrative; 4. A typology of narrative functions and modes; 5. The three functional narrative types; Part II. The Structure of the Genesis Narrative: 6. The divine Voice and the narrative functions; 7. The micro-dialogue as the matrix of the Genesis narrative; Part III. Analysis of Genesis Narratives: 8. 'Who told you that you were naked?'; 9. 'Where is your brother?'; Excursus on sacrifice in religion and literature; 10. The central micro-dialogue; 11. 'Why did you say, 'She is my sister'?'; 12. 'Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?'; 13. 'Who then is he who was hunting game ... before you came?'; 14. 'Where do you come from?'; Notes; Bibliography; Index - authors and topics; Index - Biblical references.